Finding a medical software development partner
Thus, Sparks and Bellevin founded Wildflower Health in June, 2012 with an idea was for a mobile program to help women track her pregnancy milestones and get advice and actions to support their pregnancy journeys. The idea is to help women resolve a range of pregnancy issues with information, self-care, and provider assistance and actions right on their phones. The program would be further enhanced by tying actions directly to the benefits and programs available from their health plans, making the mobile program highly actionable.
After gathering information from hundreds of pregnant women, health plans and employers to develop their product design, Sparks and Bellevin began searching for a technical partner. “We knew how we wanted the app to function and look, but we needed a strong technical group who could partner with us on development,” explained Bellevin. “Plus, they needed to understand the unique challenges of a start-up. Our timeline and budget were both tight.
They found what they were looking for at Coherent Solutions. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Coherent has a US-based technical team and a development center with 300+ people in Minsk, Belarus. The company has been the engine behind dozens of technology start-ups. Bellevin and Sparks were impressed with Coherent’s background in healthcare software development and their willingness to provide input.
“Our Coherent team is very responsive and everyone on the team contributes to thinking through feature implementation,” said Bellevin. “I appreciate when they offer alternatives and explain why something might work better this way or that. They don’t throw up barriers, they present us with choices.
Wildflower needed to create an engaging experience for pregnant women, while collecting data to create a full picture of health issues. “Showing that we could attract and engage pregnant women was important to attract investors and clients,” said Bellevin. “It also helped us refine the product in an iterative way where we could see how adding new features improved the way our customers interacted with due Date Plus.
Coherent’s team got on the app right away, creating the first, free iteration of Due Date Plus in just ten weeks. The DTC app includes key engagement tools and clinical content that make the program compelling. Topics include common concerns like nausea, fatigue, weight gain and nutrition, as well as diagnosed conditions like gestational diabetes, and important health history considerations like preterm births. Users can check milestones such as when a heart beat can be heard or when they are likely to feel movement from the baby.
Within the first year more than 50,000 pregnant women had downloaded Due Date Plus. Wildflower measured usage, gathering feedback on the content and feature set to make changes and updates. Having proven the application’s effectiveness with the DTC version, Wildflower was well-positioned to roll-out its enterprise program in December 2013.
“By providing continuous engagement and a complete offering of options, Due Date Plus can more effectively help a woman reduce complications and have better outcomes for her and her baby,” said Sparks. “At the same time, this helps make health plan programs more effective and reduce overall costs to the system.”
The win/win of the app for users and the healthcare system was also a win for Wildflower Health. Sparks has had a personal win too. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy in late 2012.