How Oren Oz, Founder, and CEO of Nuvo on how he created a remote pregnancy management platform.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Oren Oz: As a CEO, husband, and father of three, the onset of COVID-19 brought challenges and adjustments to both my personal and professional life. At home, my wife and I needed to create a comfortable space for our kids to thrive using remote learning. Managing the unknown was a challenge for all of us and caused worry for the future. A big focus of mine became ensuring the health and mental wellness of my loved ones. Thankfully, no one in my family has gotten sick, and COVID-19 has allowed us the opportunity to spend more quality time together.
Simultaneously, I was tending to the needs of my second family, the “Nuvo family,” as we adjusted to the new norm. We learned to navigate “working together” from the comforts of our homes, managed relationships with new and existing clients, conducted clinical trials, and collected high-fidelity data, just to name a few things. We learned to execute tasks seamlessly. It showed me the exciting future of the workforce and how hybrid models of working from the office/home will evolve in this new world.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Nuvo.
Oren Oz: I’m a serial entrepreneur whose businesses have been inspired by my growing family. In 2014, my wife’s third pregnancy was deemed high-risk, and outdated pregnancy monitoring and medical practices created additional stress. Our family had been put on a tight management program, which meant many trips to the doctor’s office—located in a complex full of sick people—with two children at home and careers to juggle. This uncomfortable and stressful trip had to be repeated multiple times a week for several weeks. During this time, an inaccurate analog reading nearly resulted in an emergency C-section. The pregnancy eventually resulted in an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, but the frequent trips to the hospital and the scare of the false alarm stayed with me. The chasm between how pregnancy care was delivered—in centralized clinical settings using 30-year-old technology—versus the digitally enabled, personalized, distributed care that could be developed using current technology called me to create a better way. The concept, “data should travel, not pregnant women,” starts by getting mom unplugged from the wall. That’s why I started our journey to reinvent pregnancy care for the 21st century.
How does Nuvo innovate?
Oren Oz: Here’s the grave reality: U.S. maternal mortality rates have increased by more than 50% over the last 25 years, and according to a 2019 CDC report, 60% of those deaths could have been prevented had the mothers been able to access quality prenatal and postpartum care more easily. Moreover, nearly half the counties in the U.S. do not have a single Ob-Gyn, and 55.1% are without a nurse-midwife.
Globally, the standard of care is over three decades old. Traditional practices rely on analog technologies to measure fetal-maternal monitoring and require pregnant mothers to come into a clinical setting or use non-physician-approved equipment at home, which often provides inaccurate readings and presents data without physician supervision. In a digital era where patients can get everything delivered to their fingertips via their smartphone, pregnancy care has not yet adapted to best serve expectant mothers in the 21st century.
Our flagship offering, the INVU™ platform, is helping to address the situation outlined above by transforming the point-of-care from the clinic to the mom. INVU is a technology designed to deliver medical-grade, remote pregnancy monitoring through a prescription-initiated connected care experience between an OB team and an expectant mother.
INVU has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. FDA for maternal and fetal heart rate monitoring. We’ve also submitted a supplemental 510(k) application to the FDA for remote monitoring of maternal uterine activity. If approved in this indication, INVU will become the only FDA-cleared product capable of performing remote nonstress tests, a common procedure conducted in-office up to multiple times a week for some women in their third trimester. Nuvo is also developing algorithms to help expand pregnancy monitoring into pregnancy management. By using big data to identify risks and trends among expectant mothers, we can help providers address challenges earlier on in the pregnancy, ultimately improving outcomes.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Oren Oz: Broadly, COVID-19 changed the trajectory of telehealth, taking it from an unmet to acute global need overnight. What would have been considered a “10-year plan” for the industry has become turnkey in just 10 months. The more people were restricted by the pandemic, the more empowered they became to take control of their own health.
Recognizing challenging times were upon us, we conducted a survey of 500 new and expectant moms and found that they were seeking versatility in their pregnancy care. Specifically, 71% reported being “really worried” about exposure to COVID-19 as a direct result of in-person prenatal visits, and 77% would prefer to do some of their prenatal visits remotely as long as their doctor could provide the same level of care. With moms eager for options to continue care outside of the doctor’s office, the demand for remote monitoring catapulted Nuvo and the INVU platform into the spotlight, and we quickly worked to meet these needs.
We received FDA 501(k) clearance for INVU in March 2020. The timing also coincided with the world coming to a screeching halt. So, while we now had INVU available to address the needs and concerns of expectant mothers during the pandemic, we were challenged to scale our business to fulfill our promise, support our clients, and execute our production remotely. The last year has shown the strength of the Nuvo team to overcome challenges while aggressively working to meet the demand for our business.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Oren Oz: Since its inception, Nuvo has been committed to serving providers and expectant mothers by advancing pregnancy care with new technology, tools, and practices. As such, we were ahead of the immediate shift to telehealth and saw the pandemic as an opportunity for growth. Instead of being forced to downsize, we were able to hire employees and continue to build on our current and future offerings. We were faced with challenges such as how to interview and onboard new employees without being able to meet them in person, and how can we make our employees feel connected to each other, and the important work we are doing?
We stood by our mission and were able to onboard individuals to “create the glue” between teams. It is a learning process that we are still working through, as many companies are. Nuvo as a company believes in autonomy, but also in empowerment and togetherness. Even though people are alone working remotely, we were still able to meet all the goals that we had for this year by working together online. We were able to complete clinical trials and create scientific data as the world was locked down. Though we crave the social interaction that we once had in the office, we are finding new ways to innovate at home rather than next to the coffee machine.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Oren Oz: Our customer relations is two-fold: cultivating existing relationships and forging new ones. While moving our interaction with existing clients to a virtual meeting was a relatively simple task, we needed to get creative on how to meet new clients, because getting on a plane for an in-person meeting may not be an option for some time. This is an area where we continue to refine our approach today. Conducting new business virtually is a big change. Technology has made this situation easier by helping us build-remote bridges with our users and clients. However, we are still missing the integral piece of human interaction. We hope that component of the business makes a comeback soon.
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