Gateway Health adds on-demand telehealth app for new moms

Gateway Health has joined with Pacify Health, a telehealth technology firm, to improve the health and well-being of new mothers and their babies.

Pittsburgh-based Gateway, a managed care organization, will initially pilot the use of Pacify Health's 24/7 telehealth mobile app to 1,000 mothers in four Pennsylvania counties.

Washington, D.C.-based Pacify was formed in 2014 and is the winner of the 2017 Medstar Health Patient2Consumer Startup Challenge—it currently serves eight public health and Medicaid programs.

Along with live video chat, Pacify features regular push notifications, alerts and various educational resources related to prepartum and postpartum well-being. Pacify staff submit chart notes after each call with findings and recommendations. A Pacify membership provides on-demand, video-enabled access to a nationwide network of maternal and pediatric specialists.

According to Pacify, the service is available to consumers on Android and iOS platforms, links users to lactation consultants, Gateway Health maternity case managers or a 24-hour nurse line. On average, the mobile app will connect mothers and experts in less than a minute at any time of the day or night, according to Pacify.

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Pacify contends that it reduces unnecessary costs for health plans, and boosts Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) and Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) measures, as well as improves quality of care, and engages pregnant and new parent members.

"Traditionally, new mothers in need of assistance during off hours had few options outside of calling a family friend, searching the Internet, visiting an emergency room or waking up their doctor during the middle of the night," says Lakshmi Reddy, MD, medical director of Gateway Health. "A service capable of offering 24/7 consulting is capable of not only reassuring worried mothers…but would also greatly reduce unnecessary emergency services and their accompanying expenses."

According to the Gateway, many mothers also struggle with food scarcity and other social determinants of health. With this new collaboration, moms in need are connected to a Gateway care manager who can direct them to the nearest food pantry or possibly have food delivered to their home.

Pacify’s app can also be pre-programmed to send scheduled messages throughout the child's first year, including text reminders for vaccinations, well child exams and lead screenings.

"When it's 2 o'clock in the morning and you're struggling with breast feeding, the last thing you want to hear is that that the first available appointment isn't until the next morning," says Pacify Health CEO Ben Lundin. "This service will help close care gaps associated with the Medicaid population, while empowering parents to be active decision makers in the care of their babies."

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