BehaVR, a digital therapeutics company that aims to liberate people from stress, anxiety and fear though the power of virtual reality, today announced a partnership with Save Moms — the national maternal mortality and morbidity prevention campaign directed by Reach, a 501(c)(3) global social impact organization — in support of expectant mothers in underserved communities. BehaVR will provide NurtureVR, a first-of-its-kind virtual reality program for expectant moms, to 5,000 low-income and otherwise marginalized families, along with a portion of sales proceeds, to support Reach’s efforts to provide maternal healthcare resources and education to expectant moms at higher risk for complications during and after pregnancy.
The collaboration comes at a time, according to new research from Stanford, during which pregnant women are showing depressive symptoms at a rate two times higher than they were pre-pandemic. Studies have long drawn a connection between perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, which lead to chronic stress depression, and their tendency to lead to shortened gestation periods and preterm delivery — two birthing factors that contribute to the high rates of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in the United States. And this disturbing trend has a disproportionately negative impact in minority populations: six times higher for Black and African-American women and four times higher for Indigenous and Native American women.
“One of the well documented areas of opportunity in the application of digital technology is in addressing the needs of the medically underserved,” said Dr. Fran Ayalasomayajula, MPH, PMP, president and founder of Reach. “Yet although digital health platforms are demonstrating clinical efficacy in identifying high risk pregnancy and helping to prevent further complications, the adoption among providers remains low, and populations who have the potential to gain the most are not being reached. By promoting self-directed care, BehaVR is unlocking access to tools that women need to help ensure a safe and stress-free delivery and postpartum experience. We immediately recognized NurtureVR as an opportunity to deliver care at scale to a diverse population of women and are encouraged by BehaVR’s long-term focus and investment in addressing this issue,” continued Ayalasomayajula who has published on the topic.
About BehaVR and NutureVR
BehaVR’s NurtureVR supports women on the journey from pregnancy to motherhood. With a full 22 weeks of programming, NurtureVR gives women and their families access to a range of educational material, mindfulness skills and immersive experiences to empower them during pregnancy and beyond — in their own home and on their own time.
With modules covering everything from nutrition to lactation to labor, NurtureVR is designed to regulate the anxieties and fears that come with the most critical phases of pregnancy. It continues through birth with eight weeks of postpartum content, covering issues such as maternal-baby bonding, partner intimacy, stress management and hormonal and emotional changes. NurtureVR also allows women the option to personalize skin tones, environmental settings and breastfeeding style — all in the spirit of cultivating empathy for the self, and deeper connection between them and their babies. The individual journey is further refined with BehaVR’s proprietary Dynamic eXperience Engine [DXE], which drives the flow of the content and allows for real-time capture of patient experience and biometrics.
NurtureVR was developed and piloted in partnership with Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Orange County, Ca. in 2020, the outcome of a deeply collaborative process with moms, physicians, nurses and midwives. NurtureVR is built on decades of research into VR’s ability to mitigate pain related to pregnancy, create experiential learning environments, reduce stress, and improve wellbeing.
“The Reach team shares our mission to reimagine how people access care that empowers them on their journey to improved health,” said Aaron Gani, founder and CEO of BehaVR. “BehaVR has translated and adapted evidence-based mental health care into the powerful medium of VR and we are excited to fill a therapeutic gap that has long been missing. We are proud to support the ‘Save Moms’ campaign, as well as to continue learning through our partners ways that we can extend the value of the tool we’re creating for those communities who need it most.”
About Reach and Save Moms
Save Moms is the national campaign of Reach, a 501(c)(3) global social impact organization focused on improving the healthcare experience for patients and providers. The mission of Reach is to create better healthcare experiences for both providers and patients. Reach is focused on sustainable, large scale improvements in the delivery of care and in the health journey of all people. Reach’s leadership team is helmed by Fran Ayalasomayajula, MPH, PMP, Founder and President, public health professional and widely respected technologist. For more information, visit https://savemoms.us/about-us.
BehaVR is a new kind of digital therapeutics company dedicated to tackling the epidemic of anxiety-related challenges and disorders, to help curb chronic disease at scale. Partnering with the country’s leading academic institutions, research institutes and pharmaceutical companies, we innovate at the intersection of behavioral science, virtual reality and community design to develop immersive, evidence-based experiences that change peoples’ lives. At the core of our products is our stress, anxiety, and fear extinction (S.A.F.E.) protocol. S.A.F.E. builds a powerful foundation of short-term coping skills and long-term resiliency tools — giving people agency over their own health, and generating value, change, and better clinical outcomes for all stakeholders in the healthcare system.
The BehaVR Scientific Advisory Board includes leading researchers and authorities in the fields of behavioral neuroscience and medical virtual reality technology, including Walter Greenleaf, Ph.D., Hunter Hoffman, Ph.D., and Adriaan Louw, PT, Ph.D. For more information, visit www.behavr.com.
NOTE TO EDITORS: a demo of NurtureVR is available upon request.
- VIDEO: About NurtureVR
- VIDEO: Soon-to-be Mom talks about NurtureVR experience
- Link for maternal health advocacy communities to register interest for NurtureVR