Contributed: Pregnancy and fertility digital apps are tackling affordability and access – Mobihealth News

Maternal and child health arecritical for digital solutions that positivelyimpact pregnancy outcomes. As early as2016, this category of app sawapproximately 200 milliondownloadsas the broader consumer marketplace lookedto smartphone trackers for fertility and maternity education.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has added an additional reason to have care online that avoids an in-person gynecologist office visit for a physical check-up, these apps should be reviewed for utility, features and effectiveness in patient education, emotional support, engagement and awareness.

In the current COVID-19 environment, both consumers and employers are seeking maternal health solutions that provide a comprehensive and integrated end-to-end solution that supports conception, pregnancy, delivery, postpartum recovery, lactation, and early childhood development with additional resources for infertility, adoption and surrogacy.

HIMSS20 Digital

A generation that grew up with technology is starting families, and those who were more reluctant to embrace technology in healthcare are pivoting to more acceptance. In addition to conception, the FDA approved the first direct-to-consumer app for contraception in 2018. This app uses an algorithm that takes into account complex factors such as menstrual cycles, sperm survival rates and body temperature to estimate when a woman is ovulating.

Companies have quickly understood how to appeal to the consumer with an integrated, digital-enabled care solution that will support the future parents' journey as a digital-native experience. These tools must address the diversity of potential users. They should adaptto new family structures, and appeal to single parents and LBGTQ.

Based on correct and consistent daily input of data, most apps provide an estimate of when a woman will have fertile days. In many cases, these apps offer not only a tracking process, but also education specific to niche maternal health needs and care-management advocacy to support them.

This data is also invaluable, both to the company valuation that holds the information andalso to the consumer that can have more customized and personalized solutions based on the data collected.

In 2018, a few payers launched a national, value-based-care maternity-bundled payment model for commercial group members with lowto moderate risk pregnancies. Since then, more employers began to provide programs that enable expecting parents to connect to resources and tools such as health alerts and reminders, cost and quality tools, maternity coaching, provider locators and the ability to call a nurse 24/7.

Three general categories of apps exist:

Although different in scope, they all provide engaging experiences that match the expectations of digital consumers. Their platforms have demonstrated that maternal health does benefit from digital programs that enable improved outcomes with high net promoter scores.

Moreover, these digital platforms support women transitioning from conception to pregnancy, and pregnancy into parenting, with an engaging interface across the multiple phases of the process.Some programs even focuson high-risk pregnancies for useful guides and navigation tools.

Companies are investing in demonstrating their impact and in optimizing capabilities to impact key metrics with measurable financial outcomes for employers, such as reduction in C-section rates, a lower use of ART, lower rates of births requiring intensive neonatal care and improving the transitional experience of returning to work.

The key for successful engagement is an integrated portfolio of tools and services focused on supporting the potential parent across fertility, pregnancy and post-partum. Several companies have developed applications that serve the initial scope of fertility-tracking and, once this milestone is achieved, that adjust to pregnancy by carrying over the information and preferences from prior times into pregnancy. This transition is made possible by key concepts such as:

These digital fertility and maternal health apps continue to provide valuable support to women and aimto improve key maternal health metrics such as ART, C-section and neonatal ICU rates. Indeed, these platforms continue to require the correct and consistent input of data to curate accurate solutions.They cannot entirely replace the connection between a trusted clinical provider and a patient. However, they can be used to extend the care in the complexity of our healthcare system with an integrated approach.

About the author:Dr. Liz Kwo is currently the deputy chief clinical officer at Anthem anda faculty lecturer at Harvard Medical School, and previously cofounded and served as CEO of telemedicine second-opinion company InfiniteMD. She received an MD from Harvard Medical School, an MBA from Harvard Business School and an MPH from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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Contributed: Pregnancy and fertility digital apps are tackling affordability and access - Mobihealth News

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