Ruth Health is Making Virtual Maternal Healthcare Accessible
Personalized virtual healthcare is something that should be available to everyone, nationwide. That’s precisely the mission of Ruth Health, a healthcare company making telehealth accessible to pregnant women.
The company’s mission is to make prenatal and postpartum healthcare more comfortable, convenient, and easy—all of which have been proven to improve health outcomes. This new model of maternal healthcare aims to lower maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity rates.
HubSpot for Startups spoke with Alison Greenberg, Co-founder and CEO of Ruth Health, to learn about the origin of the company, her passion for equality, and advice for fellow female and LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs.
The origin of Ruth Health
HubSpot for Startups: What is the origin of Ruth Health? How did you meet your Co-founder Audrey Wu?
Alison: The origin of Ruth Health has a lot to do with my origin. I was born talking about vaginas at the dinner table, because my mom, Dr. Vivian Greenberg, has been an OBGYN for over 40 years, and now we are very lucky to have her as our Chief Medical Officer. Her work in the field of women’s health pioneered a lot of new things, including having the first all-female HCP (healthcare personnel) practice. It was the first of its kind in Philadelphia and that’s what really inspired me to start Ruth Health.
I met my Co-founder Audrey in the field of conversational AI, as both of our first companies fell under that category. Mine was a front-end design studio and hers was a back-end software platform. We met specifically while speaking on a panel about women in AI. The foundation of our relationship has really been about merging technology and women’s issues. When we got tired of building chatbots, we realized that women’s health was a shared passion—where we could really put our energy, expertise, and technology to the best use.
An interest in maternal healthcare
HSFS: What initially sparked your interest in the healthcare industry and specifically maternal healthcare for women?
Alison: Well, I had a career for almost eight years in healthcare and brand strategy. I worked for clients like CVS Health, Merck, Edwards Lifesciences, and Stryker. I even worked on kind of health-related projects for larger companies, including projects in the energy industry and the athletics world. So health and wellness have always been exciting to me because I think if you don't have your health, you have nothing. It's fundamental.
And then maternal health care again—I was born into maternal health. I also believe that maternal health, because it is so focused on birth, is how all of us came into this world. There was just a mother or a parent, or a birthing parent. That is the seed of injustice. And I think so much of racial economic, social political inequity for women and vulva owners stems from birth. It comes from the many inequities, and the horrific maternal mortality rate, because we have the highest maternal mortality rate of any nation in the developed world.
A passion for equality
HSFS: Can you speak about your passion for equality and the LGBTQIA+ community? How does that tie into your company’s mission and values?
Alison: I am extremely passionate about women, vulvas, and women’s health, and not just because I’m a queer woman and a lesbian. I love women in terms of my romantic preferences, but I also love women in terms of wanting to work to better womankind as a whole.
I think the LGBTQIA+ community is already at such a disadvantage when it comes to healthcare. Then, when it comes to fertility and the path to parenthood, it’s much harder for queer parents, especially of the same sex, and trans parents. When someone like me wants to have a child, it’s not just about sex, we need a community, support, and medical assistance. In many cases, there may be a fertility journey involved.
And the same goes for gay men and trans parents who have other hurdles in the way of their pregnancy and postpartum journey. So I really believe that more support and new modern resources are critical for the LGBTQIA+ community to experience equality in the sense of family and maternal health.
So it always ties back to our mission and our values. Our mission is to increase access and joy in maternal care, and access and joy are very, very short supply or in very short supply for members of the LGBTQIA+ community when it comes to their health.
Rewards and challenges
HSFS: What has been the most rewarding part of building your own company?
Alison: The most rewarding part of building our company has absolutely been the feedback from patients. Our Net Promoter Score (NPS) is 94. And it's because we take patient access and patient support so seriously, but we also have an amazing channel on Slack called “Good Feedback.” And if I were just to read you a couple of the things that I've heard, there's so much positive feedback we get and it's so wonderful to read it. You know, one patient said, “My sex is already better.”
Another patient said, “We really know how to treat moms right.” We've even been called aspirational in our branding. And people love the fact that we talk progressively about women's health. Our providers get incredible feedback as well, such as “The production value looks amazing and our video content array is so lovely. Kimberly unlocked everything I needed and has been absolutely life-changing as a resource.”
These are actual patient testimonials. So we're really proud of the way our patients perceive us and of the impact that we're able to make in their lives. Being called a game changer by our patients is our whole reason for being.
HSFS: What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced since founding the company in 2020?
Alison: Entrepreneurship poses just one hurdle after the next, and it was challenging to reach the mark of hundreds of patients from direct to consumers and then to transition to B2B. It's also been extremely challenging for us to fundraise as female founders. My co-founder, Audrey, has now stepped down as CEO but when she was COO, she and I went out to fundraise after YCombinator and experienced a lot of bias and a lot of bigotry. People were “mansplaining” pregnancy to us. Fundraising is already hard for women, and we only raised about 2% of venture capital. It was definitely extra hard for us as females building a company in women's health.
HSFS: What are the most popular services that you offer at Ruth Health? Can you share a success story?
Alison: Our most popular service far and away is our pre and post-bodywork. Our “Ask a Doula” product is also becoming extremely popular, especially with our B2B clients, and one of my favorite success stories. So pre and post-body work used to be called pelvic training and recovery.
We had an amazing testimonial from one of our patients. She couldn't walk. She couldn't hiccup her child—just basic functioning in the world was extremely hard for her due to her pelvic floor dysfunction. By the time she'd been working with us for about four months, I believe she was able to hold her daughter, and run around and play with her child. And I'll never forget that she called our lead pelvic trainer, Kimberly, who's also our chief experience officer, a “pelvic witch.” She said that “we really worked magic on her and changed her life.” And that is what we do and why we do it. It really gets us out of bed in the morning.
We've also supported dozens of live births and “Ask a Doula” is meant to be support for both prenatal and postpartum. We had no idea that our patients would actually text our doulas in the middle of live birth while they were pushing, and it's amazing that we've been able to support them without them having a live doula in the room.
HSFS: What are your long-term and future goals for Ruth Health?
Alison: Our long-term and future goals for Ruth Health are to reach the many thousands of patients mark and to work with more hospitals and healthcare systems—which we're already beginning to do now in New York, Washington State, and California. And overall, our goal is to end the pregnancy tax which is paid by every birthing person in time, money, and career in order to bring life into the world.
Advice for female and LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs
HSFS: What advice would you give fellow female and LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs looking to start a company?
Alison: Find your community. The LGBTQIA+ plus community is called a “community” for a reason. I have always been floored by the way other queer entrepreneurs reach out and support me and my business. I am so grateful to entities like Angels, which is actually one of our investors. It's the largest syndicate of gay and queer investors in the world.
I'm also a member of the New York Board of Startout, which is an amazing nonprofit that supports LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurship. The fellow board members and community members I've met through Startout have become my friends and my support system. There are people I crowdsource ideas with and it’s a true networking community that supports each other.
I think it's because we all know that we're fighting the odds that LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs are a small minority, but we're very mighty. And we bow above our weight always because we have each other's backs.
So, find your community. Stick with people who understand your worldview and your life experience. And remember, there are lots of queers in high places!