Unfortunately, the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis in the United States means that hundreds of women die every year from causes related to pregnancy and birth. The situation is particularly dire for women of color, especially Black women, who face a maternal mortality risk three times higher than white women.
Layo George, a registered nurse and entrepreneur, founded the Wolomi app to provide women of color with support throughout the pregnancy and birthing process. Certified by Allscripts’ ADP Empower program, the soon-to-be-relaunched app focuses on guiding and connecting people who are pregnant or wish to be.
George spoke with Healthcare IT News about what inspired her to found Wolomi, how innovators can center the needs of the most vulnerable people and what excites her about Wolomi’s future.
Q. What inspired you to found Wolomi?
A. While working as a delivery nurse in the Midwest, I saw firsthand the differences in the level of healthcare between white women and women of color. Care gaps for women of color are an overwhelming reality, as they are three times more likely to die in pregnancy and postpartum. When I was pregnant with my child, I didn’t want to die. I wanted a safe and positive experience. Thankfully, my experience was very positive because I created it myself. However, this is not a reality for all women of color.
I founded Wolomi because I wanted to help women navigate the healthcare system so they would have better pregnancy outcomes, joy and ultimately better care.
Q. How can Wolomi help pregnant patients of color feel connected with the community and with health experts?
A. Wolomi is a community for women of color to support one another and make the birthing journey and motherhood a joyful thing. The Wolomi app allows women to undergo mental health screenings, speak with culturally sensitive experts, get weekly pregnancy and postpartum updates from a midwife of color and attend curated events for the moms and experts. Our hope is to provide support before and after the birthing process to make the experience for women of color a positive one.
Q. What are some of the products or tools aimed at solving women of color’s health-related problems that Wolomi provides?
A. Wolomi allows its users access to maternal health experts, events, mental health screenings and weekly pregnancy and postpartum tips that are all necessary to improve maternal health outcomes for women of color. We provide access to all women, even those who cannot afford app membership.
Q. What is missing from the conversation about health equity?
A. As far as perinatal health is concerned, we still need more communication about interdisciplinary care in this field. Wolomi works on a model where midwifery, OB/GYN and perinatal mental health philosophy are available to users. It really takes a village with the family in the middle.
The healthcare system currently makes a lot of choices for women as they interact with the system. We need to give them access to evidence-based and culturally sensitive care that works and allows women to choose how they want to design their care.
Q. How can innovators best center the needs of the most vulnerable?
A. Innovators must listen to the needs of historically marginalized people and continue to invent based on those needs and desires. Health care is universal for everyone, and we need to actively address health disparities because these gaps are unnecessary and avoidable.
Q. What are you excited about for Wolomi’s future?
A. I am looking forward to continuing to grow Wolomi and the community we have created by getting it into the hands of the people who need it through partnerships with providers and health insurance companies. I am excited to be changing the narrative for people of color when birthing.
It is so rewarding to work together in the community as we support one another, and not become another statistic, so we can do other things that we love to do. On the technology side, we are excited about conducting predictive analytics with Allscripts’ integration.