There are remarkably large gaps in preterm birth rates among women from different ethnic and racial backgrounds in the United States. African-American women, for example, have a 50% higher rate of delivering their babies preterm than their white counterparts.

“And there are other significant differences across various groups,” says Dr Avi Patil.

A specialist in maternal-fetal medicine, Patil spent years as an academic trying to understand why such health disparities exist. His research led him to seek new ways to identify women at risk of having a complicated pregnancy, particularly those living in underserved and vulnerable communities.

Confident that digital health can overcome barriers to care, Patil established a start-up called Nixxi Health. The Phoenix-based firm aims to improve pregnancies and reduce complications, starting in areas of Arizona with poor access to health care.

“We saw in digital health the opportunity to create tools that can be effective in identifying women at risk,” says Patil. “These [tools] can overcome access and cost barriers that traditionally excluded certain portions of the population.”

Understanding Women’s Risks Through Digital Tools

Equipped with innovative tools, Nixxi is transforming the detection and monitoring of pregnant women’s health risks — from gestational diabetes and preeclampsia to mood disorders and needing a C-section.

One of these tools is BlueJeans Telehealth, a platform that provides a simple and smart way for healthcare practitioners and patients to meet over video. 

Nixxi has integrated BlueJeans Telehealth into its own platform to deliver video consultation in an obstetrician’s (OB’s) office with a more specialist doctor. This gives women greater and convenient access to high-risk pregnancy care.

“Rather than have the patient drive across town or take a day off just to see a specialist, our virtual care platform allows for screening of pregnancies in her OB’s office to identify risk factors.” 

Accessible and Personalized Care

To provide additional convenience, Nixxi’s partner practitioners also offer a fully mobile service. They can give consultations on the fly, with patients joining the session through a mobile device. 

The user experience is the same as being in an OB’s office, thanks to customizations from BlueJeans Telehealth. Nixxi and its partners can customize the platform’s landing page so it shows the OB clinic’s brand elements such as logo and color schemes. This gives patients the perception of being in the clinic.

“There’s even a virtual waiting room where we can provide reading materials,” adds Patil. “You can enhance that experience when someone’s waiting and you’re running behind schedule as a clinician.”

Significantly, the BlueJeans platform allows the patient to key in their issues and symptoms, which Patil notes is helpful “because it allows us to get a status check.”

Patil particularly likes BlueJeans Telehealth’s integration with the Apple Health app as it lets patients share with Nixxi certain vital signs, including their heart rate and blood pressure. 

This has made it easier to monitor patients’ risk factors.

Making a Difference to More Women

Nixxi’s virtual care tools have been a lifesaver to a growing number of women in Arizona. They are helping prevent serious complications, as well as stillbirths and premature births, particularly among those from vulnerable and underserved groups.

Currently working with a dozen OB practices, the firm aims to make its high-risk pregnancy care available to women across Arizona and beyond. This kind of care will only become more important as more women get pregnant later in life and face increased risks of complications. 

“As a healthcare provider, what can you do to better accommodate that trend and still provide great care for women with risk factors? You need to monitor those factors,” says Patil.

“And that’s where technology comes in. You need technology that allows you to communicate with patients, as well as facilitate data transfer between the patient and the physician.”

BlueJeans Telehealth will continue to provide that capability as it further evolves and improves its functionality.

“When I spoke to the BlueJeans team during the sales cycle, they were pretty transparent about what their development pathway looked like.”

Patil values that transparency. 

“It told me that this is not a stagnant technology. It’s a platform that’s really intended to continue to gain functionality. It means I can look forward to finding other ways to continue to integrate it into our patient experience.”

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