A couple of days ago new data released by the CDC revealed that despite increased public and governmental attention on maternal health, maternal mortality in the United States continues to rise with Black maternal health disparities still glaring. Shocking results especially as the U.S. already has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world. “There is hardly a space in healthcare where the gap between what we do and what we can do is bigger than in maternal health”, says Dr. Senan Ebrahim, Founder and CEO of Delfina, a San Francisco-based digital health startup on a mission to improve health outcomes for mothers and infants. He started Delfina after witnessing a stillbirth one night at the hospital. Co-founders Dr. Ali Ebrahim and Priyanka Vaidya joined the company shortly after.
Millions of babies are born stillborn each year. Millions more suffer permanent brain damage because of birth injuries. Delfina wants to change this. With their comprehensive data platform, Delfina Care, driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, is poised to execute their core mission. Proprietary algorithms are used to predict and proactively manage pregnancy risks and provide a patient-centered, personalized care experience. According to the HHS, more than 30% of Black women do not receive prenatal care during the first trimester with 10% receiving late or no prenatal care at all.
Delfina wants to democratize access to best-in-class care for expecting mothers everywhere and has raised $5.3M in seed funding led by Story Ventures to continue its work towards this goal. Other participants in the round include SemperVirens VC, Bread & Butter Ventures, Goodwater Capital, MIT E14 Fund, Metrodora VC, SpringTime Ventures as well as angel investors including former CEO of Reddit Ellen Pao and former Facebook Head of VR Hugo Barra. The company has raised a total of $6.45M to date. The new funds will be used to support a clinical pilot at A&A Women’s Health and to continue taking the platform to market.
Dr. Ebrahim explains: “Data in pregnancy care is especially fragmented which has led to its limited use in past decades. From my MD-PhD work in neuroscience creating predictive models, I have seen how utilizing data in new ways can improve patient care. Our approach to unifying and proactively analyzing pregnancy data will enable us to make true progress improving health outcomes for moms and babies.”
Delfina’s proprietary dataset is built by combining data from patients, clinicians and EHRs. Health data is a space Dr. Ebrahim is familiar with given his previous experience at Hikma Health, an open-source, mobile health data system for physicians serving refugees, which he started in 2017. Additional data sources, for example from wearables, will be added to Delfina’s platform in the future to get the best possible insights and enable best-in-class preventative care.
While its algorithms are proprietary, the company is committed to giving back and contributing to research. In 2021 the company participated in the NICHD Decoding Maternal Morbidity Challenge, where it received awards for innovation and addressing health disparities for its Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy Predictor.
Dr. Norman Lamberty, an experienced OB/GYN and CEO of A&A Women’s Health is implementing Delfina Care as part of a clinical pilot. He shares: “We are thrilled to partner with Delfina and use their innovative technology to take the best possible care of our pregnant patients. With Delfina Care, we can better understand the risk profiles of our patients and more efficiently achieve better outcomes for all.”
Story Ventures Partner Jacob Yormak, who led Delfina’s recent seed round, adds: “Delfina’s data platform stands out by rigorously predicting pregnancy risks while centering the patient experience,” said Story Ventures Partner Jacob Yormak. “This approach uniquely positions Delfina to reduce healthcare costs while delivering better outcomes. We are excited to join Delfina in building the future of pregnancy care.”
Mary Grove, Managing Partner at Bread & Butter Ventures, agrees: “Delfina’s approach has tremendous potential to democratize access to better health care and better outcomes for moms and babies by shifting care from reliance on 100% manual review to leveraging data and scalable tech.”
Looking to the future, Delfina is now starting to put the fresh funds to good use. Priyanka Vaidya, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of Delfina shares: “I am delighted to lead our growing team in building new Delfina Care functionality that empowers both pregnant people and their care teams to address maternal care in diverse settings and populations. I look forward to designing a care platform that will one day support millions of mothers like me through challenging pregnancies to ultimately have healthy and happy outcomes.”