SimpliFed Provides Critical Support to Parents Amid Formula Shortage
Bringing a new baby home is a momentous occasion, carrying both joys and challenges for parents. Feeding is at the pinnacle of both mother and baby’s health in their first days, weeks, and months, and while it can be incredibly rewarding, it can also be difficult.
In the current climate, parents are facing the added strain of a public health emergency surrounding the nationwide formula shortage. Barren store shelves and rampant misinformation has left many parents feeling anxious and scared as they navigate feeding their children.
SimpliFed, founded by Andrea Ippolito ’06, M.Eng. ’07, a lecturer in Cornell’s College of Engineering and director of W.E. Cornell, is providing critical support to parents as they balance their feeding journey. With a background in healthcare, including graduate research on deploying telehealth systems to serve military members affected by PTSD and work with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Ippolito and the SimpliFed team are poised to address the situation head-on.
“I feel like I’ve been training for this my whole life,” Ippolito said. “When you start a company like SimpliFed, your goal is to redesign the system, with deep respect for who and what came before you, but in working to create a much better experience for families that allows everyone to feel good about feeding their family. That’s our true mission here.”
Since 2019, the startup has been providing non-judgmental, inclusive support to parents through its virtual platform, no matter how they choose to feed their baby. The Ithaca-based and Rev: Ithaca Startup Works member company meets parents where they are at, both physically and conceptually. Through virtual lactation consultations, expert guidance is at parents’ fingertips. Services are also personalized to meet individual feeding goals, whether that be breast feeding, formula feeding, or a combination of both. Most importantly, SimpliFed is helping to democratize access to baby feeding support, working to ensure that these services are covered by health insurance.
“Not a lot of people realize that, under the Affordable Care Act, breast feeding support is a covered benefit for commercial and Medicaid health plans,” Ippolito said. “Our goal as a company is to non-judgmentally provide support, covered by your health plan, at no cost to you. That is critical right now as parents troubleshoot and work to feed their baby.”
SimpliFed has been making great strides in its work, recently closing a $6 million seed round, with a portion of this funding being dedicated to implementing new contracts with the U.S. military’s TRICARE program, which will allow families to access up to six free lactation consultations per birth by SimpliFed’s providers. Of all the work Ippolito and her company is doing, perhaps the most crucial is the extra efforts they are employing to aid families during the formula crisis.
The company has always offered a free lactation consultation for parents, but it is amplifying that service under the current circumstances. New or expecting parents can access expert advice via a free appointment that is of no charge to them. SimpliFed is also hosting two different virtual classes to help give parents peace of mind. Targeted to expecting parents, the first class helps families prepare for feeding their baby in light of the formula shortage. The company is offering a class for postpartum parents as well, which focuses on ways to access formula, provides support with breastfeeding, and outlines how to harness a combination of both.
“This is important right now because everyone’s needs are incredibly unique to them,” Ippolito said. “Being able to work with a maternal health provider expert to reach your goals, whatever those may be, to get your true questions answered is crucial.”
As a mother of two, Ippolito lives the mission of SimpliFed, and she herself is navigating the formula shortage alongside millions of other women across the country. She knows first-hand just how important it is to have access to trusted information, and her own advice has helped shape the invaluable resources that SimpliFed has available.
“The biggest thing is to seek out support from experts,” Ippolito said. “There’s a lot of noise out there right now in the media and social media, so talk to your pediatrician and providers like SimpliFed’s experts who will work with you to create a plan and answer questions that are relevant to you.”