mHealth and Pregnant Women: App Leads to Better Health Outcomes

While the United States is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, its maternal and infant health outcomes, simply put, leave a good deal to be desired. Indeed, according to an NPR/ProPublica investigation, the U.S. maternal mortality rate tops that of other developed nations at 26.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. And Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows that pre-term birth, which often brings with it low birth weight and other health problems (not to mention high costs), remains a significant challenge, impacting roughly one in 10 infants. However, according to recent research, mHealth may be able to help connect mothers-to-be with the resources they need to deliver healthier children. As mHealth Intelligence first reported, the results of a pilot study published in the journal Telemedicine and e-Health found that usage of an app among Wyoming Medicaid patients helped increase the likelihood of women scheduling and completing prenatal care appointments, as well as their odds of delivering healthy babies.

Wyoming Medicaid’s app, called Due Date Plus, was designed “to engage and identify women with pregnancy risk factors early in their pregnancies and connect them to evidence-based interventions and supportive resources,” the study’s authors explain. While the pilot study focused on Medicaid patients, the app was made available to women throughout the state. The app provided tips and guidance (based on clinical guidelines) to users, along with tracking tools, appointment reminders, and the ability to connect via the app to health care providers. The study’s authors found that Due Date Plus was successful on several measures: “App usage was associated with improvements in prenatal visit completion and reduced incidence of low-birth weight delivery,” they note. What’s more, they reported high rates of engagement with the app among users.

The authors recommend further research, given the study’s small sample size, and also raise concerns about the potential cost of more widespread implementation of the technology. They further note that usage of the app appeared to have no statistically significant impact on C-section rates or NICU admission rates, which continue to present public health challenges. However, overall, they are optimistic about the pilot’s results, and note that the app continues to be used among Wyoming Medicaid patients. “Strong user engagement numbers and promising results from the Medicaid pilot study suggest that broader implementation of the application and further study of its effectiveness are warranted,” the authors conclude.

Click here to read the article from mHealth Intelligence on the Wyoming mHealth study.

Click here to read the Telemedicine and e-Health study on mHealth in Wyoming.

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