Solving the Maternal Health Crisis with Machine Learning

Maternal mortality rates in the United States are alarming, with over 1,000 women succumbing to pregnancy complications in 2021 alone. This crisis is particularly acute for Black women, who are three times more likely to experience pregnancy complications, while Native women face the highest maternal mortality rates among all racial or ethnic subgroups.    

And what’s even more startling is that nearly 80% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable.

“The racial disparities in the maternal health crisis are why we started Delfina,” Senan Ebrahim, MD, PhD, Delfina founder and CEO, said. “As a physician, it was shocking to see the statistics and how little we understood about why some of these gaps in care exist.”

Dr. Ebrahim and his team are working to improve this reality. By combining relationships with AI-driven predictive analytics, the platform establishes a care system that cultivates trust, empowers women, and provides continuous support to improve health outcomes.    

By hiring clinical and social care staff locally, the Delfina team directly supports the patient, while algorithms work to predict potential complications, such as hypertensive disorders or gestational diabetes that disproportionately affect women of color.

“Using our machine learning systems, we can identify which patients are at risk for complications early, and that enables us to deliver effective interventions earlier than an average clinical setting,” Dr. Ebrahim said. “We also help strengthen the bond between patient and physician by having our software and support team handle more of the items on the care plan so the physician can spend more time evaluating and optimizing decisions as needed.”

For Delfina, the work doesn’t stop when pregnancy does, as they understand one in five mothers will be impacted by a mood disorder postpartum. Offerings like educational classes and support groups promote wellness, even for patients who may be at relatively low risk for a mood disorder.

When looking at a patient’s data to develop a treatment plan, Delfina prioritizes an equitable approach.

“We get a comprehensive and personalized picture of the person and who they are as a human being, as a patient. From all that data, we're able to predict who needs what treatment,” Dr. Ebrahim said. “And then we assess ourselves rigorously in terms of our predictive performance and our clinical outcomes for patients of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.”

“We earn trust with total transparency. We show the provider and the patient exactly what's going on. We show them a deep picture of how the pregnancy is progressing and that transparency fosters trust.”

Throughout his time in 1501 Health, Dr. Ebrahim cited as mentors Dr. Michael Udwin, Medical Director, Practice and Payment Innovation, and Colleen Harner, Manager of Population Health Consulting and Value-Based Care for CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.

“Dr. Udwin understands, from a clinical perspective, the value of Delfina to clinicians, and     he's also been guiding us on articulating the clinical ROI and how to translate that for a health plan,” Dr. Ebrahim said. “Colleen has a deep understanding of our solution, and her advice was to simplify our product and distill our messaging. It was key feedback for evolving our product.”

The majority of Delfina patients are on Medicaid, a group they are proud to serve, especially because their engagement is the same as those who are not. Participating in the 1501 Health cohort helped them understand how to serve these patients even better, generate cost savings, and more significantly close the gap in care for women, leading to healthier babies and moms.

By reducing the number of early births that require NICU stays, and effectively managing chronic diseases related to pregnancy, Delfina is revolutionizing the entire framework of pregnancy care for all.    


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 
About Healthworx 
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 BlueCross BlueShield, Healthworx envisions a healthier future for all people by changing the way health works. To learn more about Healthworx, visit