Innovation Key to Improving PreNatal, Postnatal Care Access

A key issue facing modern healthcare these days is improving access to pre- and postnatal care for expectant and new mothers.

A recent report from the BlueCross BlueShield Association found a greater number of women are entering pregnancy with pre-existing conditions that can harm a baby’s growth and complicate its birth, and that rates of post-partum depression are rising.

Those trends are fueled partly by access issues ranging from a simple lack of transportation to a shortage of specialists in some geographic areas, and the result can often be costly medical complications during and well beyond childbirth.

Health insurers have a vested interest in solving the access riddle, and a recent collaboration between Harrisburg-based health insurer Capital BlueCross and York-based provider WellSpan Health is a prime example of how technology is helping to overcome these barriers.

That collaboration gives pregnant women access to a convenient, remote-monitoring application for prenatal care, which can improve outcomes for mothers and babies.

The organizations are offering expectant mothers, who are WellSpan patients and Capital BlueCross members, access to Babyscripts, a mobile app that allows them to have access to crucial prenatal health information throughout pregnancy through weekly tasks, resources and tracking.

The program allows expectant mothers to share health data, such as weight and blood pressure, with doctors and advanced practice providers in real time through internet-connected devices provided to the patient.

Using this service, WellSpan providers can quickly and remotely identify warning signs, such as critical changes in blood pressure, that indicate the mother and the baby may require immediate medical assistance. The mobile app also provides valuable health tips and other services to assist expectant mothers.

The collaboration between Capital BlueCross and WellSpan brings together the payer and the provider by making data that is typically available to a provider also available to the payer–enabling better clinical collaboration of the patient’s care needs.

“This is a terrific way to help WellSpan Health providers use technology to help expectant mothers better connect with their doctors and take care of themselves during pregnancy,” said Dr. Jennifer Chambers, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Capital BlueCross. “When we work together in this way, it means not only better care at this time, but also a better outcome for overall health and a better value for our members’ healthcare dollar.”

“We know from the data that delays in getting care for underlying health conditions can cause problems with the pregnancy–both for mom and baby,” said Michael Seim, M.D., senior vice president and chief quality officer for WellSpan Health. “Our work with Capital BlueCross is aimed at identifying those conditions and developing a care plan early, so that we can have best possible outcome for these expectant mothers.”

The collaboration is one of several Capital BlueCross and WellSpan have been developing as part of a strategic partnership they announced a year ago. The mutual goal is to improve health and reduce costs for central Pennsylvania employers and healthcare consumers, officials say.