About Modelo Health
Cofounder, Modelo Health,
How would you imagine the creation of a pregnancy app to begin? If you guessed with a pregnancy, you’d be right. In late 2018, Nic and I began our pregnancy journey. I was ecstatic to finally be pregnant and eager to learn as much as I could before Valentina arrived! However, getting pregnant was far from a walk in the park for us, thanks to my PCOS and high-risk status due to my kidney donation years prior. A loss and 4 attempts with a fertility specialist later, we were finally pregnant. Our excitement gave way to concern early when we were informed of a low Papp-A reading. We didn’t know what it meant and the clinician’s explanation didn’t help. The worst parts were the uncertainty and endless questions: “What does this mean?”, “What’s going to happen?”, “What can we do?”, etc, with no definitive answers. Frustrated by the lack of clarity, Nic (being the family protector that he is!) set out to inform and guard the course of our pregnancy journey! He wanted to do everything he could to ensure that we minimized any risks and had a healthy pregnancy. So, being the proverbial nerd that I love him for, he set out to learn everything and anything he felt would help us mitigate risk and understand what was to come.
Sadly, from his professional experience, Nic knew that there were major breakdowns in our healthcare system and not all the information for moms-to-be was accurate, accessible, clear or concise. And if you know Nic, accuracy and clarity are part of his life fundamentals. Fortunately, his experiences in genomics, software, biotech, and public health offered him a view to this problem in ways most people wouldn’t have otherwise seen. You see, Nic couldn’t just sit back and swallow the idea that the limited, siloed, unclear information that we would find during our pregnancy was enough. He wanted to make it clear and empowering, so he set out to identify all my pregnancy related risks, then educated us on how they affected me and lastly but most importantly, identified the actions that we would take to mitigate any risks. That’s when it all began!
I became the very inquisitive “guinea pig” that was poked, prodded and measured daily. We set out to solve for the healthiest, safest, most empowered pregnancy and delivery possible, and we weren’t quitting until we felt confident that we gave ourselves the best conditions for a healthy delivery. We felt that we succeeded. Based on the information that we learned we changed many things about our environment, most of which became permanent. By the end of my pregnancy, I was hiking 5 miles a day – and at 40 weeks (after just 2 hours of active labor) we were introduced to our very own little girl, Valentina! Yes, luck, divine intervention, acupuncture, mediation, crystals, lavender diffuser and a killer soundtrack all played a role but we like to think that the confidence we had that came with our educated preparation led the charge! It certainly made us feel more empowered, and much of the information was eye-opening. Who knew? Interestingly, nobody could have unless they dove into the data. But who has the time or skills to be able to do that?
And the most important part of our story was our educational journey. Unbeknownst to us there is a healthcare crisis in the U.S. today affecting pregnancy, and it’s really scary. A pregnant woman today is more than twice as likely to die during pregnancy as her mother was 30 years ago! Can you imagine that? I was beyond blown away. I couldn’t help but ask, “Why?” and “How, here in the U.S.A.?” When you peel back the stats more, it becomes even more terrifying. So, you could say that along with the birth of our Valentina, so too was Modelo Health born. Its initial purpose was to protect and guide me, but we felt that such a comprehensive risk modeling tool could be useful to every woman going through her own journey. Pregnancy, by definition, is a high-risk healthcare condition that elevates a woman’s risk of adverse events. We don’t often see it that way, but doctors know it, and yet, our healthcare system simply doesn’t do enough to empower us with the risk assessment tools that we need. Unfortunately, it’s a wait-and-see, reactive form of care that often catches negative trends when they’re too late. Modelo Health was inspired by, and created for, the very purpose of protecting us moms and women against these stats. Our mission is that every mom, everywhere is informed, empowered and confident to make the best decisions for her and her baby throughout her pregnancy journey.