Emerging Health Leaders: Melissa Hanna, J.D., MBA, Co-founder, CEO of Mahmee

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MHE Publication, MHE October 2021, Volume 3, Issue 10

Melissa Hanna is one of 13 up-and-coming health leaders featured in this annual Managed Healthcare Executive series.

Melissa Hanna, J.D., MBA, co-founder and CEO of Mahmee in Los Angeles

I grew up in California’s San Fernando Valley and earned a B.A. in public policy and sociology at Pomona College, an MBA at Claremont Graduate University and a J.D. at Southwestern University School of Law.

Career highlights include securing an all-star lineup of investors in our seed fundraising, including Serena Williams and Mark Cuban, and establishing a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership with the DC Department of Health to serve new and expecting mothers in Washington, D.C.

Who has had the greatest influence on your life?

My mother, Linda Hanna, M.S.N./Ed., RNC, who is Mahmee’s other co-founder and whose work inspired its formation in 2014. As someone who delivers maternal and infant healthcare and also trains healthcare providers, my mother set an example of how integrated models of care could work at scale and where technology could make the greatest impact in this industry.

Why did you pursue a career in healthcare?

I did not initially decide to pursue a career in healthcare. Instead, I started my career in education, with a focus on policy and technology. After graduating from college, I worked for some educational tech startups. What I learned in those spaces about centering a student’s experience and needs in school informed my views on healthcare and led me to wonder where else these lessons could be applied. Centering maternity patients’ experiences and needs in healthcare was an exciting prospect for me despite the field’s known complexities.

Which career accomplishment has given you the greatest satisfaction?

Leading my current team at Mahmee. As Mahmee continues to grow, I take pride in sharing my passion for this work with new employees and leading them to find more effective ways to support patients and providers in maternal and infant health. Furthermore, I find myself in new and greater learning opportunities as I work toward improving my own skills as a strategic leader, which is incredibly satisfying.

What has your organization’s role been in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines?

Earlier this year, we mandated that all 30 of Mahmee’s employees be fully vaccinated, which we achieved last spring. Because all types of expectant and new parents and providers use Mahmee, we have a unique reach into some of the most at-risk U.S. communities. Since the vaccine rollout began, Mahmee has promoted vaccinations among pregnant and postpartum mothers and continues to provide updated information on risks and considerations for birthing individuals based on guidelines and recommendations by local and federal public health officials.

What would be the best way to reduce healthcare inequities in the U.S.?

According to the CDC, (approximately) 700 pregnant women die during pregnancy or in the first postpartum year, and 50,000 women become injured or experience serious complications.

What’s more, Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women, and in many cities pregnancy-related risk is disproportionately concentrated in certain areas.

The healthcare industry lacks the information technology infrastructure needed to connect professionals from different organizations to discuss cases and to follow and monitor patients across practices and health systems. This missing element creates serious gaps in care.

By zeroing in on these gaps and closing them, I believe we will make a massive impact on maternal health complications within the U.S.

Name a book or article that everyone in healthcare should read.

“Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen,” by Dan Heath. The book delves into how to prevent or solve problems before they occur, which is a critical skill when running a business.