In the United States alone, about 700 people die each year because of pregnancy or delivery complications. What if some of these deaths could be prevented by better educating healthcare providers on how to respond to emergency situations?
Enter Maternal 911–a company that believes we can do more to decrease pregnancy-related deaths and increase positive outcomes for pregnant, laboring, and postpartum patients. We spoke with Maternal 911 cofounders, Michelle Becher and Shelly Betancourt, to learn more about their company and passion for decreasing maternal mortality rates.
Company mission: We believe educated health care professionals are empowered to provide quality maternal care.
Questions and Answers
How did the two of you meet and what compelled you to create Maternal 911?
Michelle Becher: Shelly and I met in 2001 when I completed my OBGYN residency. She was the nurse director in my unit, and we supported countless deliveries together. We recognized that there was a lack of continuing education to support pregnancy complications or emergency situations during labor and delivery–and we wanted to do something about it.
Shelly Betancourt: Every two years, we renew certifications to maintain competency in healthcare delivery and need continuing education to maintain our professional license and there wasn’t a program that focused on supporting people who are pregnant as there are programs such as those for advanced cardiac life support, neonatal resuscitation, and pediatric advanced life support. We started putting together a list of the high-risk events that can occur and knew we were on to something.
Tell us more about the technology. How does it work?
Shelly Betancourt: Maternal 911 is a multimodule course designed to provide up-to-date education to all healthcare providers working with pregnant patients. We went through rigorous requirements with the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine so that continuing education credits can be awarded when a participant completes our program.
Our program offers both online modules and simulations. The simulations allow program participants to practice responding to a scenario they may encounter in a healthcare setting. We recommend that these simulations be practiced in a real clinical environment so it’s easier to identify where equipment is and involve the various people who may support the intervention.
Michelle Becher: We’re committed to updating the program once a year so that participants are trained on the most up-to-date research and technology available. Our hope is that all practitioners who take our program renew their certification every two years.
Shelly Betancourt: We’ve created several modules and simulations that can also educate emergency healthcare providers who may encounter a myriad of pregnancy conditions. Obstetrics departments have been closing all over the nation, and we want to make sure that anyone who may be serving these patients is prepared.
Who are your customers?
Michelle Becher: There are number of entities that can benefit from deploying our program, including healthcare systems, community hospitals, malpractice insurance companies, or any individual healthcare provider that is looking to continue their education. Munson Grayling Hospital was one of our first pilot programs in 2019 and we’re thrilled to share that they recertified in 2021.
Shelly Betancourt: We have more than 300 people going through the program right now. These include healthcare providers from ten different states, Canada, and 28 healthcare systems.
How did you get connected to MedHealth? What has MedHealth done to help your business?
Michelle Becher: We’ve been working with Central Michigan University Research Corporation (CMURC) since the inception of Maternal 911, and they have been a major contributor to our success. They also introduced us to MedHealth, who has connected us to several new contacts that can support our business. We’ve found that relationship building is invaluable.
What’s next for Maternal 911 in the months ahead? What are you working toward?
Michelle Becher: We’re in the early stages of working on a federal grant application through the National Institute of Health of the National Science Foundation. It’s quite a process, but we’re really excited about what it could mean for our business.
Shelly Betancourt: We’re also continuing to grow our partnerships with other experts who can review and give feedback on our curriculum, provide IT support, and even marketing support. It truly takes a team. The last thing I want to mention is that we were recently recognized as 2021 CMURC Mount Pleasant SmartZone Small Business of the Year and will be accepting the award at an event in May.
What do you wish you knew when you were first starting that you know now?
Michelle Becher: I don’t think we realized how much work this would be, but I’m so thankful that Shelly has been with me alongside this journey. We balance each other out.
Shelly Betancourt: I couldn’t agree more. It’s really our passion for decreasing maternal mortality that keeps us going.