To support residents through pregnancy and in the postpartum period, the state of Michigan is providing Medicaid-eligible families with access to the Philips Pregnancy+ mobile application.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is working with Royal Philips to provide access to the app, which offers information on fetal growth and personalized support. The app includes 3D animated models of the fetus with information on weekly development alongside diet and exercise recommendations.
The state health department has further worked with Philips to customize the app for Michigan residents. The app can direct users to state programs included in Michigan’s Home Visiting service. These free early childhood programs aim to provide extra support and training for parents and caregivers. They offer breastfeeding resources, information on illnesses like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza, and mental health resources.
The app features a feed recommending relevant content, tools, and health department programs at specific points of the user’s pregnancy and postpartum journey.
“MDHHS is excited to be able to offer the Pregnancy+ App to Michigan families to support them during this exciting time in their lives,” said Natasha Bagdasarian, MD, chief medical executive for the state of Michigan, in the press release. “We want to ensure they are able to access the resources they need, and to learn about important topics including immunizations, hearing screening, breastfeeding and other information designed to improve the health of moms and babies.”
This expansion of access to the app among Medicaid-eligible residents in Michigan comes as maternal outcomes worsen in the US. The latest Centers for Medicare and Medicaid data show that the maternal mortality rate was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020, up from 20.1 in 2019.
Maternal outcomes among Black people are especially bleak. The maternal death rate for Black women was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020, nearly three times the rate for White women. Hispanic women also recently experienced a sharp increase in maternal mortality rate, from 12.6 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019 to 18.2 in 2020.
To bolster maternal care outcomes, the federal government has made moves to extend Medicaid coverage. Per the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, states can provide continuous Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage for a full year postpartum. Michigan received approval for its request to extend Medicaid coverage for 12 months postpartum last May.
Following the expansion of Medicaid coverage, the addition of the app aims to further improve maternal and infant outcomes and close care gaps among the approximately 40 percent of births financed by Medicaid every year.
“Addressing disparities is long overdue… Tailoring our application to make it easier for Michiganders to access the resources they need is a great first step in leveling the playing field,” said Kimberly Mingo, vice president of government strategy at Philips, in the press release.
Healthcare stakeholders are increasingly extending access to digital health tools that support pregnant people.
New York City-based Northwell Health recently launched an artificial intelligence (AI)-based chatbot for pregnant people. Called Northwell Health Pregnancy Chats, the tool aims to educate patients, identify urgent concerns, and direct patients to an emergency department if needed. The chatbot provides health risk assessments, blood pressure tracking, prenatal testing, birth plans, and lactation support.
Source: mHealth Intelligence