At first glance, one digital health solution might look a lot like another. In the case of maternal health, many solutions are based solely on telehealth access. They give members another layer of healthcare providers in addition to their regular primary care and OBGYN visits, but that doesn’t always equal better care or better health outcomes. It may be missing personalization.
In fact, bringing more providers into the mix can cause problems for two big reasons:
- First, members can end up with disparate moments in care — there’s no one to put together the big picture of their health and risks.
- Second, a disconnected layer of telehealth is almost always reactive, not preventive.
How reactive, disparate care happens — and why the gaps are a problem for maternal and fetal health outcomes
Patients usually use a digital health platform to connect with a telehealth provider for quick questions about specific issues. But the telehealth provider doesn’t have access to the patient’s background, risk factors, or earlier symptoms, so there’s no opportunity to understand whether one small symptom might be part of an underlying or developing health issue. Plus, a member only calls when they notice an issue. The care can only be reactive, not preventive.
And since a patient’s primary care provider or OBGYN may not know about a telehealth interaction, they can’t put the self-reported symptoms from the telehealth visit into context either. With this gap in care, it’s easy to miss small warning signs, meaning that patients may not get the screenings and care they need.
Here’s an example of how this kind of gap in care can turn into something much bigger: imagine a member meeting with a telehealth provider between prenatal checkups to ask about headaches. The member gets advice on how to safely treat a headache during pregnancy.
But headaches can also be an early sign of preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy). And the telehealth provider doesn’t know that the patient has other preeclampsia risk factors (such as preeclampsia in an earlier pregnancy, kidney disease, or an autoimmune disease). Without this knowledge, the provider doesn’t see a problem developing. And the patient, having already consulted with a telehealth doctor, doesn’t mention headaches to her regular doctor.
In this case, the care team misses the opportunity to reduce the risk of preeclampsia with a simple preventive: low-dose aspirin. Or to provide other life-saving measures, from monitoring and medication to early delivery if necessary. Untreated, preeclampsia can lead to preterm birth, placental abruption, and, if the condition develops into eclampsia, seizures and coma.1
The secret to a digital health solution with better health outcomes and a tangible ROI? Personalization
An extra layer of telehealth alone just isn’t enough. For better birth outcomes and a meaningful ROI, a digital health solution needs to include personalization and proactive care. Members need to be able to track and record their health, and someone needs to be looking for trends so health issues are caught and addressed early.
Ovia Health is built with personalization at its core — members begin the Ovia program by taking a comprehensive health assessment. Then, they’re given the tools and prompts to track their health daily, from weight and nutrition to sleep and physical and mental health symptoms.
Ovia uses its repository of health data from research, along with claims and experiences from more than 18 million Ovia member journeys, to assess risks for each person. From there, we use personalization to provide members with the specific education they need, help them understand their risks, and guide them toward clinically-proven steps to help reduce adverse health events.
Let’s consider another example — the risks associated with a short cervix. For some women, the cervix begins to shorten too soon during pregnancy. This raises the risk of preterm labor, in turn increasing the health risks for newborns. But few women know about the importance of cervix length, or that their cervix length should be checked regularly.
To help members discover any cervical issues and prevent preterm births, Ovia uses personalized pathways. First, we educate members about the importance of having the cervix measured. Then, our coaches proactively message members with a reminder to have their providers check cervical length (we also provide support if members need help advocating for care). Finally, our app offers members the ability to track and understand their cervical measurements.
A recent study proved members who work with Ovia coaches in this personalized way are more likely to take steps to help prevent preterm delivery. Members are:
- Two times more likely to receive cervical length screenings during pregnancy.
- Two times more likely to take part in our preterm delivery prevention program.
- Three times more likely to be enrolled in our progesterone adherence program to help prevent preterm birth.2
With this type of personalized approach, which combines data with human health experts who can stitch everything together, we’ve reduced the preterm birth rates for Ovia members by 54 percent.
Ovia’s approach also improves birth equity and maternal outcomes for Black mothers. This is critical because Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.3 And they’re 60 percent more likely to develop preeclampsia.4
To address these disparities, Ovia built an entire program and clinical pathway tailored to the unique needs and risks of BIPOC members. For example, when a member identifies as BIPOC (or has a history of high blood pressure), Ovia personalizes their experience to ensure they know about the risks and signs of preeclampsia, and helps them track relevant symptoms. The Ovia Care Team also monitors health inputs. If a member records symptoms that could be early warning signs (high blood pressure, dizziness, blurry vision, headaches, etc.), an Ovia Health Coach will proactively reach out to refer them to their provider for testing.
Ovia also helps at-risk members with low-dose aspirin use — a simple, effective step to help prevent preeclampsia. And members can opt into a monitoring program that includes a Wi-Fi-enabled blood pressure cuff.
With Ovia’s personalized, proactive model, a member’s provider remains at the center of care, so members get the guidance they need, and they don’t fall into a care gap. The results are safer births, and a significant ROI for employers and health plans.
What to look for in a digital health partner
If you want a digital health partner that can help you save costs and improve birth outcomes, these are the most important things to look for:
- Personalization for every member.
- Health tracking and proactive outreach to help members understand and address their unique risks.
- A plan to keep members in-network and prevent disparate moments of care.
- A track record of improving birth equity.
- A proven ROI.
Your next steps to integrate personalization in digital health
Ready for a new partner for women’s and family health? Learn more about Ovia. We offer comprehensive women’s and family health programs that include 1:1 coaching, physician-developed clinical programs, and personalized health and wellness education. Visit www.oviahealth.com for more.
1: The Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/preeclampsia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355745
2: Ovia Health: https://images.ent.oviahealth.com/Web/OviaHealth/%7Bc81c4ef7-21c5-4d9a-b11d-e97db367bf6f%7D_All_AllENT_OnePager_ACOG-Coaching-Study_MC_V1_12May21.pdf
3: Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5915910/
4: Harvard Public Health: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/magazine/magazine_article/america-is-failing-its-black-mothers/