Partnering With Bloomlife to Create Innovative Technologies to Serve Communities of Color

Bloomlife is a maternal health company developing remote prenatal care solutions to improve access to care, empower women, and provide clinicians with better information to improve birth outcomes.  Their current focus is commercializing a device that allows for remote monitoring of the baby to identify fetal distress earlier, something only possible in a clinical setting today.  Their long-term goal is to provide first-of-its-kind data to comprehensively assess mom and baby's health throughout pregnancy to earlier predict and manage pregnancy complications linked to preterm birth. 

In partnership with UCSF PTBi, Bloomlife has been conducting research to serve communities of color. Their goal is to understand critical ethnographic factors remote prenatal care solutions must account for to ensure they eliminate barriers to accessing care and improve patient-provider communication/trust at the core of respectful maternity care. The work conducted through this partnership has been recognized by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau via two grants and further disseminated our learnings to the broader research community via a publication and talks.

The things they were able to accomplish with input from PTBi-CA Faculty and Community Advisory Board Members the following: 

  • Tested usability of a home-based prenatal wearable with communities of color and found the technology both usable and desirable 
  • Ran focus groups with communities of color to understand their experience with prenatal care today and overall perceptions of remote prenatal care
  • Ran a co-creation workshop with patients and providers to identify opportunities/solutions to improve patient-provider trust using remote care solutions.  
  • Prototyped and piloted ideas that came from the co-creation workshop
  • For the ongoing MCHB HRSA project for remote prenatal care, they first explored challenges that impact access to quality care from our target population's perspective -- low-income women of color. Also, they validated the accessibility of the proposed solution by assessing comfort and usability with a technology-based remote prenatal wearable solution during the third trimester. 

Finally, they expanded our work to examine solutions around one key fundamental barrier to accessing quality care: lack of trust. They believe that a technology-enabled innovation can help overcome this barrier by improving communication with care teams, providing women with objective data that puts them at the center of their care with bi-directional information flow, and allow for greater patient autonomy. Further work explored the needs and constraints of both patients and those providing care. They aimed to understand and test the role and requirements of technology-enabled remote care that address the trust barrier through solutions co-designed by both women in the community and providers. A day-long co-design workshop aimed to uncover key moments and commonalities between provider and patient needs and pain points with the goal of finding technology-enabled solutions that address these needs. They followed up with two pilot tests of simplified solutions determined by the co-design workshop participants.

With the rapid shift towards telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic during our pilot testing, they were also able to capture feedback on patient satisfaction for prenatal care delivered via telehealth modalities. They found that our participants (nearly all low-income women of color) were less satisfied with the care they received via telehealth as compared to the care delivered in the office. Overall findings from this work further emphasize the need for remote care innovations that include improvements on information exchange and fostering of provider-patient relationships and modalities to evaluate the pregnant person and fetus's physical health.