Online DatabiteJuly 18 2024

Black Maternal Health is in Crisis. Can Technology Help?


Mary Fleming
Ijeoma Uche
Joan Mukogosi


In the United States, Black maternal health is in steep decline. Despite increased awareness and better data about the depths of racial health disparities, outcomes for Black birthing people remain poor. At the same time, a revolution in healthcare technologies is underway, and as they provide care at the frontlines of a crisis, birth workers are figuring out how to make digital health technologies work for them and their patients.

In her report Establishing Vigilant Care: Data Infrastructures and the Black Birthing Experience, Joan Mukogosi explores how digital health technologies can produce new forms of harm for Black birthing people — by exposing Black patients to carceral systems, creating information silos that impede interoperability, and failing to meet privacy standards. By paying close attention to how clinical contexts and their associated digital technologies impact how care is delivered, this research offers a glimpse into possibilities for improved cohesion between digital health technologies and birth work.

In this Databite discussion, Mukogosi will speak with Dr. Mary Fleming and Ijeoma Uche about the facts and future of data-driven maternal care for Black patients. Reckoning with the decline of Black maternal health amid advancements in clinical technologies, they will discuss the implications of an increasingly data-driven response to the Black maternal health crisis.


For security reasons, we require guests to have an authorized Zoom account in order to participate. To register, sign up for a free Zoom account. Otherwise, please stay tuned for video to be posted on our website soon after the event. Closed captioning provided. Please email [email protected] with any other accessibility needs at least 72 hours prior to the event. Documentation, including video, transcript, and resources, will be available on our website afterwards.


Mary Fleming

Dr. Mary E. Fleming works clinically in Baltimore, MD and Louisville, KY, and is co-founder and chief medical officer for Cayaba Care, a maternal health start-up, in Philadelphia, PA. Since 2021, she has served as director of the Leadership Development to Advance Equity in Health Care program in the department of executive and continuing professional education at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. As president of the nonprofit Reede Scholars, Dr. Fleming develops strategies for the scholars to address health equity and social justice. She frequently consults as a medical expert reviewer and physician editor.

Dr. Fleming practiced as a generalist in a Norristown, PA community hospital for four years before deciding to transition to be a full-time locum tenens physician. In this capacity, she has worked in several states across the country, and volunteered with Our Lady of Lourdes Mission Hospital in Mutomo, Kenya. A native of Louisville, KY, she completed her undergraduate degree at Xavier University of Louisiana, her medical degree at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Meharry Medical College. Due to her interests in eradicating health inequities and improving healthcare for the underserved, she matriculated to Harvard Medical School as a Commonwealth Fellow in minority health policy, where she obtained a masters degree in public health.

Ijeoma Uche | LinkedIn

Ijeoma Uche, MPH, is the cofounder of Birth By Us, a postpartum and pregnancy app created to empower women of color to shape their own birthing experience while giving providers and hospital systems the insights to best support their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum journey and reduce preventable maternal deaths and complications. With a masters degree in public health, specializing in maternal, child, and adolescent health from UC Berkeley, Ijeoma’s journey in healthcare has been marked by a passion for addressing maternal health disparities. Her earlier research at Brown University focused on these disparities, and she is excited about the transformative potential of digital healthcare and technology in advancing reproductive health and health equity as a student physician.

Acknowledged for her dedication to social impact, Ijeoma has been honored as an NMQF 40 under 40 Leader in Minority Health and an MIT SOLV[ED] Under 24 Innovator, and is a recipient of the Westly Prize and a UC Berkeley BIG IDEAS award. She is also a guest lecturer at UC Berkeley. With a robust background in statistical computing, data visualization, biostatistics, and health informatics, she advocates for inclusive health tech solutions that empower communities.