A quick piece of advice for healthcare entrepreneurs? Go for the gaps.
From her personal experience, Sigi Marmorstein quickly recognized that the maternity journey is filled with tons of questions, and not many accessible answers.
That's why she founded BabyLiveAdvice, a virtual care team that provides advice, counseling and support from pregnancy to parenthood.
Since graduating from the first 1501 Health cohort in 2021, her team continues to redefine the world of maternal care, educating and empowering women across the nation by partnering with top medical systems.
Below, Sigi explains how her team finds smart strategic partnerships, and how she’s learned to pace herself throughout the process of growing a healthcare start-up.
Q: What inspired you to launch BabyLiveAdvice?
A: Although I have a background as a nurse practitioner, when I had my own children, I felt unprepared. Throughout my pregnancy, I always had a sense that something was wrong, but the doctors weren’t listening to my concerns. I experienced labor complications and ended up with two boys in the NICU.
While I was working in telehealth as a consultant, I wondered, “why are we not doing telehealth programs for women?”
This question led me to launch the pilot program for BabyLiveAdvice in 2019.
Q: How does BabyLiveAdvice fill in the care gaps throughout the maternity journey?
A: The biggest gap in the maternity journey is educating mothers on how to care and advocate for themselves and their child. This education is especially critical for those experiencing barriers in social determinants of health, a chronic illness, or mental health challenges.
We originally started the program to target prenatal care, but as we treated more women, we realized the demand for more support grew. So, we created it.
With our unified care program and our team of experienced maternal-child nurses, nurse practitioners, midwives, lactation consultants and nutritionists, we are now able to address the emotional, medical, and nutritional needs of expecting mothers.
Where there’s a need, we get the resources together to fix it. Now, we’re able to help mothers navigate postpartum, and children through 12 months of age.
Once a mom is with us, they stay with us.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your partnership with the National Black Doula Association.
A: As it stands right now, black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy related-cause than white women. Georgia has the second-highest maternal mortality rate in the nation.
To address this issue, we were asked by Johnson & Johnson to support minority women in Georgia through the National Black Doula Association. Doulas are not typically accepted by insurance, but we brought them to the forefront of care.
To date, we’ve served more than 4,300 patients. The growth has been astounding.
This ask was an extension of our pilot grant program with Federally Qualified Health Centers, which supported inner-city minority mothers in Chicago with virtual culturally-competent care from BabyLiveAdvice experts, unbiased advice, group education, and telehealth services.
Given the early success and positive feedback, we were happy to extend this to more women in need.
Q: Why did you choose to participate in 1501 Health?
A: In order to expand our services, I knew I needed a different set of eyes on BabyLiveAdvice’s business model. Especially with experts outside of our physical location.
We’ve been able to grow strategically with help from our trusted board of advisors, which I met through our 1501 Health connections. For instance, Stacia Cohen, Executive Vice President of Health Services at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, helped us carve a clear path in Medicaid.
Having the support of 1501 Health, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and LifeBridge Health was attractive to other investors, and helped us close our latest funding round.
As a healthcare industry, we don’t always support women. 1501 Health is taking on and investing in solutions for women’s healthcare issues, and that’s powerful.
Q: Tell us a bit about your partnership with LifeBridge Health and the success seen there.
A: With LifeBridge Health, we are able to provide prenatal maternal healthcare at Sinai Hospital for nearly 150 women. We’ve surveyed the class after four months, and the response has been amazing.
Q: Are there any other exciting partnerships or updates you’d like to share since graduating 1501 Health?
A: Alongside Johnson & Johnson and Walmart Health, we’ve launched the Georgia Mama care program to provide free telehealth BabyLiveAdvice services with mothers.
We also recently signed a contract with AltaMed, which will support a diabetic telemonitoring program for expecting mothers with diabetes.
One of our biggest supporters has been the Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, Maryland and we recently renewed with them for three years.
Q: Is there a piece of advice you’d like to share with other entrepreneurs in this space?
A: Business is hard, and it’s never personal. Stay the course and stay true to what you wanted from the beginning.
For us, it's been important to understand that every prospect is not the same. Every mom is different, every pregnancy is different, every child is different. You must learn how to adapt to each individual’s needs.
Step into growth one step at a time. Pace yourself. As humans, we naturally want to take, take, take, and do, do, do. But that’s how you will set yourself back.
Q: Can you recall a lesson or a piece of advice from 1501 Health that’s helped you navigate your business growth over the past year?
A: From insurance experts to OB/GYN physicians, the advice has been extremely helpful.
For instance, when I needed to present my idea to hospitals, they made my pitch much stronger. I redid my presentation four different times, and it was worth it. The advisors helped me refine my messaging and our value propositions.
Without them, I don’t know if we would be where we are right now.
September 2022 – BabyLiveAdvice Raises $1.1M
Yahoo Finance | April 2022
1501 Health | November 2021
Becker’s Hospital Review | May 2020
About 1501 Health
1501 Health is a unique partnership between Healthworx and LifeBridge Health, representing expertise in both health insurance and financing (payers) and healthcare delivery and services (providers). The investment and incubation program empowers entrepreneurs to get their innovative solutions to market and expand their impact in healthcare quality, access and affordability. To learn more about 1501Health, visit www.1501Health.com.
Healthworx operates at the intersection of healthcare and innovation by creating, co-creating and investing in companies that are improving healthcare quality, accessibility, affordability and equity. As the innovation and investment arm of CareFirst, Healthworx envisions a healthier future for all people by changing the way health works. To learn more about Healthworx, visit https://www.healthworx.com.
About LifeBridge Health
LifeBridge Health is one of the largest, most comprehensive providers of health services in Maryland. LifeBridge Health includes Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Northwest Hospital, Carroll Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, Grace Medical Center and related affiliates. For more information, visit www.lifebridgehealth.org.