Transforming Women’s Healthcare With OKRs

How Maven turns growth goals into measurable key results.

mother and baby

There’s an app for everything. But can an app revolutionize healthcare? Maven, a digital clinic and telehealth specialist, makes it easier for women to get immediate professional care from someone they trust. But for Maven’s founder, Kate Ryder, tackling U.S. healthcare requires innovation beyond technology. The company is on a mission to create and scale a healthcare model that puts women and families at the center.

Today’s healthcare industry is not fine-tuned to the needs of women, who are more likely than men to seek medical services and to make medical decisions for others. Maven knew they could leverage a huge market opportunity by supporting women and their families through every stage of healthcare. Especially for millennials in the workforce. As Ryder told Fast Company, “Millennials are overtaking the workforce, and they have different expectations of what their employer does for them.” Holistic women’s healthcare must account for their health needs before and after birth, including behavioral health support to keep parents in the workplace.

Underlying growth in this market opportunity, though, is a mission-defining belief that better care for women is a social imperative. Especially when, as Ryder notes, the “burden of the U.S. healthcare system falls disproportionately on a female’s shoulders.”

Researchers have been sounding the alarm. When it comes to healthcare coverage, access, and affordability, women in the U.S. fare worse than women in other developed, high-income countries, including having the highest maternal mortality rates. The U.S. also has the highest rate of women skipping healthcare due to cost. The more healthcare companies elevate and amplify the woman’s position as a consumer and decision-maker, the healthier her family would be — especially if you are a woman on a journey to motherhood.

Finding the right measures of growth

“There’s a huge value in removing a lot of the barrier and friction in accessing quality healthcare,” Maven’s Strategy and Operations leader Chris Hicks asserts. Hicks is no stranger to the challenges of managing a diverse set of priorities. In his most recent role before Maven, Chris led the Transformation team at WeWork after their attempted IPO. Hicks’ Transformation team was tasked with driving the execution of over 100 initiatives to get the company on track to profitability.

To help update the prevailing one-size-fits-all healthcare model, Maven started experimenting with Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) in 2019, rolling them out in 2020. Even when holding themselves accountable to stakeholder growth, Maven’s OKRs clearly align with its mission: to change the U.S. healthcare system for women.

“I think when you’re a small startup, you have basically one measure of performance, which is that you still have money in the bank,” Hicks said in an email, “When you start growing, you really need to get more disciplined around how you focus.”

Ultimately, Hicks believes that business growth metrics have to be “very people centric… A number of our OKRs are really geared towards measuring the value from a clinical standpoint and from a member satisfaction standpoint.”

Maven measures population health outcomes, such as successful births, tracking metrics on quality of service. From that baseline, Maven sets Key Results to reduce the number of complications, such as NICU admissions or preterm births.

They also closely track interactions with the app, listening carefully to feedback from patients and healthcare providers. “We’ve developed programs specifically dedicated to support our members and employers,” says Hicks, “Appointments with providers like OB/GYNs and doulas have gone up significantly. It just reflected the fact that there is a very acute need for people going through relatively demanding life changes and medical conditions to have more support than what they had access to.”

Patient feedback about trustworthiness and reliability are also measured after every single appointment, providing the product team with valuable data on how to improve services. Take language and cultural diversity. Hicks says that’s one detail that creates a big impact on member satisfaction. Closing the culture and language gap among healthcare providers and patients can reduce possible racial and ethnic health disparities that persist in the health care system. This is why Hicks says they “match the type of providers we have to the makeup of our membership.”

dad and daughter sitting at kitchen table during a telemedicine appointment

OKRs help team leaders transform global metrics into day-to-day outcomes

Maven’s executive-level OKRs list represents key growth drivers in any given year. The challenge is that a top-level Key Result, such as overall growth rate for the company, is fairly macro. “OKRs have been particularly effective at helping us drive alignment in a remote working model,” Hicks says.

As Hicks points out, top-level metrics don’t necessarily change quickly enough to influence a team’s day-to-day strategy. That’s where cascading OKRs come in.

With each layer of cascading OKRs, a macro-level key result needs to be “transformed” (Hicks’ term) into specific outcomes within the team’s core responsibilities. For example, new products and programs may be important contributors to revenue targets, but as Hicks points out, “We don’t necessarily want to measure them in terms of dollar amount, but more directly — what’s the value that they are providing to the people?”

The same holds true for Maven’s content team. They could measure how much revenue content drives, but that could get too “convoluted,” and too remote from what teams actually do. Instead, the content team’s OKRs measure engagement, and how that engagement allows Maven to provide more occasions to empower patients and also intervene when they’re at risk of complications.

OKRs help Maven move the needle on healthcare delivery

Since its inception, Maven coordinated and integrated clinical care with other support services by forming better relationships between providers and patients. When the pandemic hit, people curtailed travel, and health providers scrambled to adjust to empty waiting rooms. Demand for Maven’s holistic approach to care rose dramatically.

“When you think of pregnancies, the last thing you want to do is go to a hospital or in a place where you risk getting infected,” Hicks said.“There’s a fear of anxiety and stress.”

The team had to move quickly to introduce goals specifically related to COVID-19. “Usage of our mental health providers that support women during pregnancy spiked 600%.” Hicks reports, “We’ve added programs around childcare support and during the pandemic to really help families deal with other challenges.”

Of course, the value in telemedicine is broad geographic distribution, enabling Maven to expand into all 50 states. By their very nature, brick-and-mortar clinics require a physical space, preventing or limiting access to people who really need it. In June of 2020, Maven raised $45 million in Series-C funding to expand its services.

The pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime situation, and telehealth providers like Maven are meeting it with a sense of urgency. Keeping measurements focused on how many lives they are able to impact is what matters most. When you really start to drive at what really matters and focus on the right things, it’s amazing what can get done.

If you’re interested in starting our OKRs 101 course, click here.

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