The United States has one of the worst infant mortality rates of any developed country — and, according to March of Dimes, that rate continues to climb. The pre-term birth rate in the U.S. worsened for the third year in a row in 2018, rising to almost 10 percent.
Notably, risk is also dependent on which part of the country you live in, with most of the Southeast and Midwest earning a D or F for elevated risk of prematurity.
Part of this trend can be attributed to deeper societal issues, but another part rests on a fragmented health care system. Women who face high-risk pregnancies are often not identified until well into their second and third trimester when they start exhibiting symptoms — and are already at risk for pre-term labor.
By using artificial intelligence and data analytics, Lucina Health aims to identify those at-risk mothers as early as possible to produce better outcomes.
“Our company was founded with the purpose of helping moms and babies through a data analytics platform,” CEO Kevin Bramer tells Hypepotamus. “It also puts mom on a care plan process that’s specific to her condition in order to reduce adverse outcomes as a result of pre-term birth.”
“Our job is to get mom healthy, to find her fast and early in her pregnancy, and arm care managers with a risk profile to ultimately yield better outcomes,” he says.
Bramer had firsthand experience with a pre-term birth at a young age, when his sister was born at 28 weeks. The baby was hypoxic, a condition where the body is deprived of oxygen supply at a tissue level.
It’s only one of the many complications pre-term babies can experience.
“We’ve got a big problem and it’s growing,” says Bramer. “Most of the states are losing traction in pre-term birth and maternal and fetal mortality — not improving.”
Lucina Health uses data from insurance claims, pharmacy visits, lab data, electronic health information exchange, and social determinant data like history of domestic violence, car wrecks, drug use, etc., information which Bramer says, “in many cases will not be discussed during a prenatal visit.”
Once the algorithm crunches the data, it determines the risk factor for a specific patient. In real-time, the platform displays a detailed personalized plan for a care manager to follow.
For example, if a mother presents with diabetes, hypertension and substance abuse, the platform will address each factor.
The care manager is responsible for reaching out to the physician and working closely with them to monitor the patient.
“We’re finding Medicaid moms within the first and second trimester, many by weeks nine to 12. [Once in our platform,] the risk score changes daily as the information continues to come in,” says Bramer.
In a recent partnership with community-based healthcare provider Passport Health Plan, Lucina Health was able to identify 85 percent of at-risk mothers within the first two trimesters. The provider saw a 13 percent decrease in premature deliveries within the first six months.
Lucina Health continues to track the mother and infant through the postpartum process to gain more data on root cause issues and how the care plan helped improve outcomes.
“We have the ability to see patterns with respect to various conditions, both social determinants and clinical factors, plus the cost associated,” says Bramer.
“For example, 50 percent of African American moms have a higher rate of pre-term birth. That’s not because of the color of their skin, but, we believe, is due to acute, long-term social trauma from their environment.”
Medicaid and commercial health plans pay a subscription fee for access to Lucina’s platform. The startup also boosted its capital flow with a $2 million seed round this past spring.
The Louisville, KY-based platform is currently available in Kentucky, Florida, and Washington D.C., with more states coming online soon.