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    Vital Start Health Launches COURAGE, the First Virtual Reality Enabled, Equitable Telemedicine Platform for Maternal Mental Health and Well-Being

    Supported by initial feasibility study, practitioner network, software, and channel partnerships, Vital Start launches as the Vital Sign for Well-Being for Equitable Maternal Mental Health

    PRESS RELEASE  APR 14, 2022 12:03 EDT

    PHILADELPHIA, April 14, 2022 ( – Vital Start Health, a University of Pennsylvania startup and a member of Microsoft for Startups, has launched COURAGETM as the next-generation, one-stop-shop, multi-lingual coaching and psychotherapy platform for maternal well-being support across the pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and postpartum stages. “Vital Start Health’s unique tech-focused approach to maternal mental health and strong market potential puts it in a great position to succeed. We are pleased to see a Penn Center for Innovation startup company make significant progress in this impactful yet complex space,” Michael Poisel, Executive Director, PCI Ventures, University of Pennsylvania.   

    The platform empowers patients with experiential practice and immersive psychoeducation, with the goal of driving better diagnoses, targeted treatment, leading to greater effectiveness and outcomes. The American Psychological Association has recommended Virtual Reality for Mental Health. In addition to the existing body of evidence, Vital Start has successfully completed an initial feasibility study at a leading Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders is the topmost complication during pregnancy and postpartum, costing $19,000 per mother and over five years for treatment. Our goal is to disrupt this completely with affordable, effective care,” Kirthika Parmeswaran, CEO, Vital Start Health Inc. 

    Vital Start Health grew its network of Perinatal Wellness Coach practitioners and launched its Direct-to-Consumer 1:1 Coaching Service for mothers in maternity including those with an infant in the Neonatal ICU or needing support through loss and grief during maternity, a tough area with not enough support options currently. The services provide the mothers with a personal trainer for maternal well-being enabled through affordable Virtual Reality options. The platform has been developed by Persistent using Microsoft Cloud, as part of the Microsoft for Startups program whose support and mentorship has helped significantly in bringing this unique platform to market. The platform has key partners including a well-known patient advocacy group and a maternal remote patient monitoring platform, Happy Mama by Reach. “Reach is elated to partner with Vital Start. Vital Start’s personalized maternal mental health and well-being programs answer the call of women seeking affordable high quality, tailored resources that meet their diverse situations”, says Fran Ayalasomayajula, MPH, MSMIS, PMP, HMCT, and President of Reach. With these key partnerships, Vital Start aims to grow enterprise sales across health systems, health insurance companies, employers and pharmaceuticals.

    In its pre-seed round, Vital Start Health raised $250K from the University Science Center and Angels and is beginning its seed raise for executing the go-to-market strategy, growing team and furthering clinical validation. With a strategic vision of impacting a million mothers by 2030, Vital Start’s Health Equity Pledge directs 5% of all online sales towards no-cost services for underserved and underrepresented mothers.  

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