Welcome back! Spiffy here, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs working to make this world more equitable. Today I’m super excited to speak with Senan Ebrahim, the CEO of Delfina, a San Francisco based startup focused on UN SDG 3: Good health and Well-Being.
Spiffy: Senan, welcome to the blog! Can you tell readers what challenge Delfina is addressing?
Senan: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! At Delfina, we are addressing the maternal health crisis in the US and worldwide. Our goal is to bring intelligent pregnancy care to all pregnant patients around the world by 2030. We are improving the health of moms and babies with Delfina Care, an integrated pregnancy care data platform that offers personalized care based on a patient’s risk for pregnancy complications. We are creating a world in which all families are empowered to have a safe, healthy, and happy pregnancy.
Spiffy: That’s a wonderful cause. What motivated you to do it?
Senan: When I was in medical school, I worked with a lot of moms and their doctors who were struggling with many health challenges in pregnancy. I volunteered with patients who had limited access to prenatal care due to systemic inequalities in the US and abroad. Working with refugee communities over the past several years, I realized the power of software solutions to transform healthcare for the benefit of patients. At Delfina, I work towards our vision of a world with healthier moms and babies.
Spiffy: How would you say that you are working towards a more equitable world?
Senan: Health outcomes vary significantly based on a patient’s race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and educational background. Black pregnant patients experience complications more than twice as often as other patients in the US. At Delfina, we are working to ensure that our software supports clinicians in improving health outcomes for pregnant patients of all backgrounds, particularly those at the highest risk. We continually strive to provide equitable pregnancy care for all.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent company initiative and the impact it makes.
Senan: We recently conducted a research study on what makes certain moms more at risk for hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. Hypertension in pregnancy can cause both moms and babies to have worse health outcomes. Working with data from the National Institutes of Health, we were able to accurately predict who is at high risk and also better understand why. Using what we learned, health professionals can take better care of moms by preventing hypertensive disorders from impacting their pregnancies.
Spiffy: That’s amazing. Congratulations! Before I let you go today, can you please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up? What did you learn from it?
Senan: I worked for months with a small team in the US on a health education chatbot for refugee children. In Jordan, we demo-ed the chatbot to the refugee children we aimed to serve. Sadly, the chatbot we built was not helpful to them. However, after hearing more from the refugee doctors about their software needs, our team pivoted to create a free health data system now used around the world - Hikma Health. From this experience, I learned how to listen to and closely partner with those we aim to serve.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Senan—it’s been an honor!
Senan Ebrahim is a physician-scientist and social entrepreneur. He founded Delfina to bring lifesaving technologies to pregnancy care. He previously founded Hikma Health, a tech nonprofit. He has an MD and PhD from Harvard in Computational Neuroscience. Senan enjoys surfing, riding bikes, and making Syrian food with his family. (Nominated by Thara Pillai at Launch Lab X Geo. First published on the Ladderworks website on January 10, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.