COLAB29 - Web App

Hello Belly

Delivering a better birth experience

Problem Space

Access to Prenatal Care and Preterm Births in the United States

Problem Discovery (Origin of the Problem)

The rate of preterm births in the United States has been rising, with a 12% increase from 2014 to 2022, according to a 2024 report by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. In 2022, over 400,000 babies were born prematurely, translating to 10.4% of live births. Preterm births are associated with increased infant mortality and significant medical costs, with a median cost of $269,974 per patient in California hospitals.

Preterm birth rates are notably higher among women of color, with African-American women experiencing a 14.6% preterm birth rate, 50% higher than that of white or Hispanic women. Adequate prenatal care is essential for improving pregnancy outcomes, reducing maternal and fetal mortality, preterm births, and low birth weight. Studies from Yale School of Public Health show that group prenatal care can reduce preterm birth risk by 37% and low birth weight by 38%.

Millions of women, particularly in rural areas, lack access to these critical services. This shortage disproportionately affects women of color, leading to negative health outcomes. Addressing the lack of access to prenatal care, especially in underserved areas, is crucial for improving pregnancy outcomes and reducing economic and health burdens.

Research Insights

To validate the issues surrounding access to prenatal care, we conducted comprehensive research involving recent mothers, OB-GYN professionals, and usability studies. Key insights include:

  • Long Waiting Times: Many mothers reported significant delays in getting appointments, leading to missed opportunities for early interventions and consistent prenatal care.
  • Stressful Appointment Scheduling: The scheduling process was described as cumbersome and stressful.
  • Short Duration of Visits: Mothers felt that the short duration of visits did not allow them to address all their concerns or receive comprehensive care.
  • Long Periods Between Appointments: The lack of communication during long intervals between appointments left mothers feeling unsupported and anxious.
  • Busy Schedules and Forgetfulness: Expecting mothers often have busy schedules, leading to inconsistent care and missed critical checks.
  • Desire for Free Classes: Many mothers highlighted the need for free classes on basic child care, indicating a gap in available resources and education for new parents.

From our survey, the most critical features when scheduling appointments were availability, cost, and location. Additionally, half of the respondents preferred a specific gender for their OB-GYN, and shorter waiting times were important for half.

Landing on the Solution

The goal for our product was to improve access to prenatal care by addressing pain points such as finding prenatal care providers, scheduling appointments, reducing waiting and traveling time, and enabling easy access and communication with care providers and information. Group prenatal care, shown to reduce preterm births and low birth weight significantly, was also incorporated into our solution.

The Solution: Hello Belly

Hello Belly is a comprehensive telehealth platform for pregnant women, offering convenient access to prenatal care, group classes, and educational resources. Key features include:

  • Scheduling Capabilities for Appointments and Group Classes: Simplifies booking and rescheduling, reducing stress and ensuring timely care.
  • Video Calling for Patient/Doctor Consultations: Allows face-to-face interactions with OB-GYNs from home, reducing travel time and ensuring continuous care.
  • Resource API for Educational Purposes: Features a chatbot leveraging the ChatGPT API to provide text responses and YouTube videos to queries.
  • Video Calling for Group Classes: Supports virtual group prenatal care sessions.
  • Google Map Integration: Helps users find the closest OB-GYN care providers.
  • Calendar: Displays upcoming appointments to help mothers keep track of their prenatal care schedule.
  • Chat with Provider: Ensures continuous communication with care providers between appointments, reducing anxiety and maintaining support.
  • Email Notification: Provides email notifications to consultant and patient for scheduled, rescheduled, and cancelled appointments with meeting links.
  • Doctor Dashboard: Provides a dashboard so consultants can view their upcoming appointments, adjust them, and join from the dashboard, and additionally request time off.
  • Admin Dashboard: Allows the administrator to onboard staff members, and create group classes.
  • File Uploader: Allows the consultant to upload files to their personal dashboard for reference, as well as in the chat feature to share with patients regarding test results.

Lofi’s & Hifi’s

Implementation Details

Tech Stack Used:
  • Backend: Python, Flask, SQLAlchemy, ElephantSQL, Render, Node.js
  • Frontend: ReactJS, Vite, Firebase, Firestore
Current Design:
  • You can view the current design of Hello Belly here.
Technical Tradeoffs

In the development of Hello Belly, we opted to use the free tiers of various technologies to manage costs effectively. While this decision helped us stay within budget, it also imposed certain limitations on the platform's availability, features, and speed.

Additionally, due to time constraints, some features that would have made our Minimum Viable Product (MVP) more complete had to be scrapped. These trade-offs were necessary to ensure that we could deliver a functional and useful product within the given timeframe, but we plan to revisit and potentially implement these features in future updates.

By strategically selecting our tech stack and making informed trade-offs, we were able to build a platform that meets the critical needs of expecting mothers, providing them with reliable and accessible prenatal care.

Future Steps

As we move forward with Hello Belly, our goal is to enhance and expand the platform to better serve expecting mothers. The backend developer and product manager have confirmed their dedication to the project, while the front-end engineer will not be continuing, and the product designer's involvement depends on addressing specific product concerns.

Team Commitment:
  • Fatima (Product Designer): Conditional commitment based on addressing certain product concerns.
  • Alex (Front-end Developer): Will not continue with the project.
  • Travis (Full-Stack Developer): Committed to continuing work on the product.
  • Dare (Product Manager): Committed to continuing work on the product.
Usability Testing and Feedback:
  • High Task Success: Scheduling calls and asking questions achieved a 100% success rate.
  • Low Task Success: Rescheduling calls and scheduling group classes had a 0% success rate.
  • Navigation Ratings: The app received navigation ratings of 4/10 and 7/10.
Recommendations for Improvement:
  • Simplify the dashboard to improve navigation.
  • Make the app mobile 
  • Improve the chat feature for more reliable communication.
  • Provide specific responses in the "ask a question" feature.
  • Add a user-friendly group class scheduling feature.
  • Carry out deep HIPAA research to determine the implications for the product 


Product Manager Learnings:

Dare Akinpelu

Team Alignment: Realised that team alignment is crucial for success. Multimodal Research: Understood that good research incorporates multiple methods. Effective Problem Framing: Learned the importance of framing problems effectively. Continuous User Engagement: Always engage with users to gather insights. Raising Difficult Issues: Learned to raise difficult issues without being difficult to work with. Decision-Making: As the product manager, the goal is to facilitate decision-making rather than making all the decisions. Juggling Conflicting Decisions: Recognized that managing conflicting decisions is part of the process.

Designer Learnings:

Fatima Soni

Mutual Respect: Valuing each other’s expertise and contributions builds a respectful and productive team environment. Trust: Trusting your teammates fosters a supportive atmosphere where everyone can do their best work. Collaboration Tools: Leveraging tools like Slack, Notion, Figma, and Miro enhances collaboration, streamlines workflows, and facilitates real-time feedback. Documentation: Keeping comprehensive documentation helps in maintaining clarity and continuity, especially during transitions. Clear and Open Communication: Regular check-ins and transparent communication help keep everyone on the same page and prevent misunderstandings. Active Listening: Understanding and valuing each team member’s input fosters a collaborative environment. Iterative Process: Being open to feedback and willing to iterate on designs ensures continuous improvement and alignment with project goals. Flexibility: Adapting to changes and being flexible in your approach helps in navigating the dynamic nature of team projects.

Developer Learnings:

Alex Byrd-Leitner

Frequent, Clear, and Early Communication: When working remotely, it is crucial to communicate frequently, clearly, and as early as possible. Challenges of Part-Time Projects: Balancing this project with other work responsibilities presented unique challenges, highlighting the need for effective communication. Understanding Product Management: Gained a deeper understanding of the role of product managers and their importance to the team and product.

Developers Learnings:

Travis Owen


Importance of the AGILE Method: Learned how user stories can influence the product outcome and provide insights into user needs. Clear Communication: Recognized the necessity of clear communication in a remote work environment and how to adapt when things don’t go as planned. API Technologies: Gained confidence in implementing features using a variety of API technologies, which will be useful in future projects.

Full Team Learning

Effective Communication: Effective communication is crucial for collaboration, especially in a remote setting. Respect and Skill Utilization:Respecting and learning to work with each individual's skill set is important. Team Player Dynamics:Being an effective team player requires respecting your teammates and compensating for gaps within the team. Flexibility: Adapting to the dynamics of remote collaboration and being flexible to changes and challenges is essential.