Health tech / Roundups / Startups

Nest Collaborative is offering lactation support via video chat

And it's covered by health insurance: Baltimore County-based founder Amanda Gorman talks about using tech to spread knowledge of the benefits of breastfeeding and grow support among families and workplaces.

Nest Collaborative bring telehealth to lactation support. (Photo via Collaborative)
Amanda Gorman is looking to expand access to breastfeeding support.

A pediatric nurse practitioner, the Baltimore County-based founder created a platform that connects women with lactation consultants.

Using video technology, Nest Collaborative offers face-to-face visits with the board-certified consultants, providing a place to address concerns that arise in the first days of breastfeeding.

Through the platform, users can pick a time to book an appointment and enter their information. Then they go through the appointment to get questions answered, and receive a summary.

“The process mirrors walking into a physicians’ office,” Gorman said.

Gorman said the postpartum period is a crucial time for establishing that support. She points to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control study from 2018 that states more than 80 percent of infants started to breastfeed. By six months — the recommended time for exclusive breastfeeding by the American Academy of Pediatrics — more than half (57.6 percent) were breastfeeding. The rates fall toward about a third by a year.

The benefits to nursing for that six-month period for infants include increased nutrition, and a reduced risk of a variety of illnesses including asthma, diabetes, infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. For mothers, there’s a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers and diabetes.

Baltimore is a healthcare community.

Yet there are also barriers to breastfeeding, as first-time mothers often face uncertainty as well as challenges with planning, concerns about supplies and transitions back to home and work. Gorman said more access to lactation support providers who can help address the challenges and answer questions that arise. Nest Collaborative presents a telehealth offering that means geographic location wouldn’t be a barrier.

The startup is also looking to address cost. Gorman said the company is contracted with seven major insurance companies like aetna, Cigna, BlueCross BlueShield and United Healthcare so the service is offered with no additional copay.

Gorman said the company’s distributed team is working with women in 50 states.

Another key site is in the workplace, Gorman said, where employers may not be aware that lactation support can be covered by insurance as well as the Affordable Care Act. So Nest Collaborative is also offering a way for companies to offer its services, and working to help employers be more proactive about providing a supportive environment.

“What we do and what we can do for employers both here in Maryland and elsewhere, is not only assist them in their compliance with mandates that are coming out,” Gorman said. “But we also provide them an easy avenue to further support their employees.”

A graduate of Columbia University’s nursing school who received her master’s degree at University of California, San Francisco, Gorman first lived in the region during a stint as an ER travel nurse. She also got exposure to startups in San Francisco, which she said informed her decision to solve problems by starting a company.

In Baltimore, she’s found proximity to others working in health and tech, whether it’s at healthcare institutions, her participation in the Annapolis-based FounderTrac accelerator last year or being an affiliate member at ETC.

“Baltimore is a healthcare community,” she said.


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