HRSA seeks tech to aid remote monitoring of pregnant women

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The Health Resources and Services Administration is offering $375,000 in prizes to innovators who develop low-cost technologies to improve prenatal care in remote and medically underserved regions.

HRSA, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, is seeking proposals for solutions from coders, public health experts, community leaders, academic institutions, researchers and others in the private sector.

Technology advances are improving the ability of providers to use wearable biosensors to remotely monitor patients, including athletes, premature infants, psychiatric patients, persons in long-term care, the elderly and those in medically underserved areas, according to the agency.

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The ability to monitor expectant mothers could be improved with remote care technologies that can monitor harmful environmental exposures, nutritional intake and energy expenditure, stress, sleep patterns, blood pressure, proteinuria, blood glucose and fetal heart rate, thus enabling providers to improve rural prenatal care and outcomes while reducing costs .

These tools are necessary as hospitals in rural America continue to close. Between 2004 and 2014, 179 rural counties lost access to in-county hospital obstetric services, according to HRSA. Pregnant women in rural areas tend to be even more isolated because many do not have childcare services or transportation for the recommended 15 visits to their physicians during pregnancy.

“This challenge is designed to make technology work for pregnant women, increase access, improve communications between patients and providers and empower pregnant women to take better care of themselves,” the agency explains.

The challenge has three phases covering the conceptualization of a remote monitoring approach, then prototyping and testing the effectiveness of the tool, followed by testing scalability of the tool at low cost along with feasibility of implementation and assessing intended outcomes.

Phase 1 will have seven to 10 winners receiving a total of $100,000 in prize money. Phase 2 will have three to five winners splitting $125,000, and Phase 3 calls for one winner receiving a prize of as much as $150,000.

Complete information on the competition is available here.

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