Nest Collaborative, the nation’s first virtual lactation consultation platform, has named “femtech” pioneer Judith Nowlin as Chief Executive Officer to lead the next stage of growth for the fast-expanding telehealth company. Company Founder Amanda Gorman will remain on the executive leadership team as Chief Clinical Officer.
Nowlin’s appointment comes at a time of significant growth for Nest Collaborative and the industry at large. The company’s virtual lactation consultations, which are covered in-full by most national payers, have quickly scaled to serve thousands of parents and babies across the country. The emergence of telehealth during the pandemic and the national shortage of certified lactation providers propelled 400 percent revenue growth for the company in 2021, leading to closure of a $4.1 million seed funding round.
Nowlin, an experienced tech entrepreneur who has spent nearly two decades transforming maternity care in the United States, founded iBirth, a patient care companion app for pregnancy, birth and postpartum designed to improve outcomes for women and children. Babyscripts, the market-leading maternal health remote patient monitoring app, acquired iBirth in 2018.
“Nest Collaborative has seen tremendous growth over the past year and is positioned to take the next step in reinventing the way breastfeeding care is provided to new parents,” said Gorman. “Judith is one of the most qualified, experienced and passionate entrepreneurs I’ve met. I am excited for the future of Nest Collaborative under her leadership as we continue to expand our network of lactation consultants, accelerate our platform development, and grow our reach to thousands more families.”
Nest Collaborative was launched in 2017 by Gorman, a nurse practitioner, to revolutionize the way the medical system provides breastfeeding care. Together, Nowlin and Gorman are writing a new chapter in breastfeeding support using a proprietary preventative care model that leads to a longer duration of breastfeeding and healthier women and babies.
Today, the Nest Collaborative platform provides same-day appointments with International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) providing same-day appointments for parents in need of breastfeeding support in all 50 states. Nest Collaborative accepts insurance from the healthcare marketplace, employee-sponsored plans and Medicaid. Nest has IBCLCs who speak Arabic, English, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Portuguese, Spanish and Urdu.
“The significant growth of Nest Collaborative highlights the enormous market need for easier, affordable access to lactation consultations,” said Kristen Valdes, CEO and founder of b.well Connected Health, the digital transformation platform providing consumers a new front-end to health care, who is a Nest Collaborative board member. “Nest Collaborative’s virtual platform and preventive model is a gamechanger for parents who have been unable to access or afford a consultation with a certified lactation consultant. It gives all families the opportunity to meet their breastfeeding goals regardless of where they live, their income or insurance provider.”
The lack of certified lactation consultants is a significant barrier to breastfeeding especially for women living in rural America. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends 8.6 IBCLC’s per 1,000 live births. Ninety percent of states had less than six IBCLCs per 1,000 live births and 40 percent had less than three IBCLCs per 1,000 live births the last time it was measured in 2014. Nearly 98 percent of Nest Collaborative’s parents live in a state with less than six IBCLCs per 1,000 live births . In addition, many lactation consultants do not accept insurance.
“The preventative model that Amanda created is completely changing the status quo of breastfeeding care which is currently problem-based and inequitable due to the shortage of lactation consultants,” said Nowlin. “Bringing lactation support to new parents in the comfort of their own homes, all while covered fully by most health plans, is what’s desperately needed in order to improve our nation’s breastfeeding initiation and continuation rates.”
The shortage, combined with insufficient education and poor integration into primary care, creates barriers that significantly reduce the rates of parents able to provide breastmilk for six months, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Nest Collaborative’s lactation consultants have provided 13,000 visits to parents to date, many of whom would not have had access to breastfeeding support during COVID. Approximately 99 percent of 456 Nest Collaborative parents who were surveyed said online video visits improved their access to breastfeeding/chestfeeding. Families highly recommend Nest Collaborative’s services with a consistent NPS rating of 90+.