Ideally, pregnancy is a time of great joy and anticipation. Emagine Solutions CEO Courtney Williams’ pregnancy was one marked by great anxiety.
Like many other Black birthing people, Williams found herself haunted by warranted fears about grim data and the experiences that personify them. She thought about her sister, who was bed-bound for the latter months of her pregnancy, and her cousin’s maternal near-miss.
A crisis currently ravages the sphere of maternal health in the United States. For Black birthing people, the troubling statistics are not merely numbers on a screen. Not only does the United States have the highest rate of maternal mortality when compared to other high-income countries, but it also has the starkest racial disparities in maternal mortality. When compared to their white counterparts, Black birthing people are three times more likely to die of pregnancy and childbirth related complications.
During a time period where constant communication and routine evaluation make all the difference, the COVID-19 pandemic only amplified Williams’ fears about the safety of herself and her infant. As she fell ill with preeclampsia, she found herself bereft of tools to communicate with her provider. This experience actuates Williams in her work within the maternal health space. She developed Emagine Solutions Technology with the goal of filling gaps in prenatal care, which, for many birthing people, makes all the difference in outcomes.
Minority and women owned, Emagine Solutions Technology aims to increase the accessibility of technologies such as ultrasound to enhance maternal health outcomes. Within their portfolio is an array of maternal health technologies, like their patient app The Journey Pregnancy, remote patient monitoring software The Journey Clinic, and their FDA-cleared handheld ultrasound VistaScan. Williams leads with the ideology that there is no efficacy in community-based work without access.
“Technology is only transformative if people use it and it’s useful to a broad array of people. Technology is only transformative if people who develop it understand the inherent problems they’re trying to solve,” said Williams. “Technology loses its power if the creators are out for a quick buck and aren’t personally invested in the problem they’re solving. We want to have a stake in the technologies that are developed for our communities and we want to have input in how they are deployed.”
Another central tenet rests on the value of partnership. During our interview, Williams asserts that the problem of maternal health cannot be solved by one group, or a single technology. For this reason, Emagine Solutions Technology is partnership-driven. “For us, developing technologies is a process that evolves with the participation and input of patients and providers. The power in transformative innovation is that both patients and providers mutually benefit.” In other words, partnership allows all parties involved to view themselves as key stakeholders and beneficiaries of the work.
In addition to playing on our increasingly technological world to bring tools to birthing people’s fingertips, Williams looks to change the face of pregnancy apps, and with it, birthing people’s relationships with them. “In our research, time and again, folks that were pregnant or recently received prenatal care told us that pregnancy apps are cute and entertaining but often don’t help patients address their concerns about their maternal health. Apps can move from being strictly entertainment-oriented to serving as tools for patient education. That is exactly what we have done with our technology.”
With groundbreaking endeavors come major goals. Williams believes that Emagine Solutions Technology will be of great benefit to birthing people in rural communities, where 49% of counties do not have a practicing obstetrician or gynecologist. “We give patients a way to advocate for themselves and increase the communication between patient and provider. And, when deployed at scale, our tools have the power to reduce guesswork and subjective care,
driving down institutional biases that can impact the prenatal care experience.” Under circumstances where heading to a clinic or a hospital is not the most feasible option, Emagine Solutions Technology can serve as a bridge between provider and patient.
Furthermore, the design may prove beneficial to birthing people of color specifically, when it comes to the issue of implicit bias. When deployed, says Williams, Emagine Solution’s tools have the power to “reduce guesswork and subjective care”, which can limit the influence of institutional biases that often impact the prenatal care experience.
Emagine Solutions Technology is an example of what happens when technological innovation meets the unshakable desire for positive change. It is an attempt at ensuring that the major healthcare challenges plaguing birthing people no longer go without solutions.
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