Mohamed Kamara created InovCares, a virtual care company to connect women with doctors who can aid them through pregnancy and afterwards.
Mohamed Kamara’s mission is driven by deep, personal loss.
Kamara is the founder and CEO of InovCares, a virtual care company aimed at helping women of color. The website pairs women with providers who can guide them through fertility, childbirth, breastfeeding, mental health, and other health needs.
Kamara’s sister in Sierra Leone died due to pregnancy complications. She bled profusely and doctors couldn’t stop the bleeding, Kamara says. And his aunt in Columbus, Ohio died of preeclampsia.
After losing two family members with issues tied to childbirth, Kamara said he was motivated to create InovCares.
Kamara tells Chief Healthcare Executive that he hopes “to improve care delivery, for women of color as they go through that birthing journey, from preconception to postpartum.”
After working in finance, Kamara founded InovCares in April 2020. Kamara isn’t a doctor, but he is the child of two entrepreneurs. So he says he’s familiar with taking risks. “I was gonna be a risk taker as well,” he says.
“You have this burning desire that there is a need and you're validated through your lived experience, which is very important in building anything on health equity,” Kamara says.
After talking to providers and patients about the need to better connect women of color with physicians, Kamara says, "I took that leap of faith."
InovCares offers an app for patients where they can connect with providers, specialists and schedule appointments. The app also allows for patients to get health assessments in their home. The company also offers another app for providers to allow them to connect with patients and other doctors, attract new patients, and manage their transactions.
While having some experience in healthcare, Kamara said he understands solving problems.
“You're passionate about the problem,” he says. “You found a solution, you build it out, you really wait and build out a mobile app, both for patient and provider, and you go out there and you make sure that patients are using it, and providers are also using it.” (See a clip of our conversation with Mohamed Kamara. The story continues below.)
Maternal mortality crisis
Kamara says he aims to offer women of color an avenue to find doctors who will take their concerns seriously and will take the time to listen to them.
America’s high maternal mortality rate remains one of the nation’s most embarrassing health failures.
In a Commonwealth Fund study comparing America with 10 other high-income countries, the U.S. had the highest maternal mortality rate. The U.S. had 17.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, twice as high as the nearest nation, France, with 8.7 maternal deaths per 100,000 births.
Most maternal deaths can be avoided. Over 84% of pregnancy-related deaths could have been prevented, according to a September 2022 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The figures are especially chilling for women of color. Black women are three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white patients, according to the CDC.
Adding to the problem, many Americans don’t have easy access to obstetric care. More than one-third of the nation’s counties (36%) qualify as maternity care deserts because they don’t have hospitals offering obstetrics care and have no obstetric providers, according to the March of Dimes.
Kamara wants to offer women easier access to providers. Just as importantly, he says women need access to doctors who are culturally sensitive.
He talks about a patient who was having trouble getting pregnant, and felt as if her OB-GYN was dismissing her. She found a doctor on InovCares who connected with her, developed a treatment plan, and she had a healthy baby boy.
“That's the difference we're making,” Kamara says. “The fact that a patient like that, we were able to give her a voice by connecting her to the right clinician, who listened deeply to her need, and provided the right solution, based on her cultural experience.”
‘Listen to their needs’
Providers that work with InovCares undergo cultural competency training. Kamara calls that a “very integral part of the process.”
“That emphasizes their active listening,” Kamara says. “It also emphasizes being humble enough to listen to the patient, because the patient knows themselves better, probably better than you.”
While physicians are “incredibly smart,” doctors who don’t listen and are dismissive of patients can do damage, causing patients to be apprehensive of physicians, Kamara says.
“Those patients that have been underserved, and disenfranchised, you need to be able to listen to their needs deeply … and be proactive,” Kamara says. “It goes hand in hand, to be able to listen and be proactively solving the needs of that patient.”
InovCares has 50 doctors working with the company, and the company served 10,000 patients in the first quarter of 2023.
The biggest challenge at this point is building more relationships with payers. Kamara is aiming to show payers that providing more women better healthcare will keep them from costly visits to hospitals, and potentially more expensive stays.
Still, Kamara has high hopes for his small virtual care company. “We're providing not just the tech, but as well as the right team, a comprehensive multidisciplinary team,” he says.
At a time when more healthcare leaders say they are focusing on closing disparities in health outcomes, Kamara says that’s the heart of InovCares’ mission.
“There's a lot of lip service that happens in health equity,” Kamara says. “The word is thrown around a lot.”
“And for us, we really care about solving the problem.”