Prenatal care project and 21st century house call idea competing in $5M Mayors Challenge

MayorsChallengeHealthcare projects in Cincinnati, OH and Springfield, OR made the list of 20 finalists in the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge.

Springfield wants to make primary care available to everyone through an after-hours house call service. Cincinnati is using data analysis and care coordination to improve prenatal care and lower the rate of premature births and infant death.

The two cities are competing for the $5 million grand prize and four $1 million awards. There are two other projects related to health: Santa Monica wants to measure wellbeing and Providence wants to boost the number of words babies hear every day. The other 16 entries cover everything from urban decay to immigration to an open source predictive analysis platform to help politicians make decisions faster.

Both health projects are smart, targeted and practical. Watch the videos for each idea and then vote here for your favorite project.

Springfield’s 21st century house call would be similar to calling 911 for an ambulance but only about half the cost of a trip to the ER. It starts with a call to a nurse who gives advice and may send a Mobile Primary Care Vehicle to provide care. If a house call is needed:

A real-time video, vital signs, and illness or injury assessment of the patient is sent to the doctor by broadband cellular or satellite. The doctor provides follow-up care instructions and the patient is treated and released or transported for further care if needed. Patients who might have other needs such as diet, medication, and mental health or substance abuse issues are referred to appropriate social services agencies for follow up.

Since mobile care costs less than traditional emergency medical services and emergency rooms, access is universally available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. The triple aim of healthcare reform: better care, better health, and lower cost are met in a new, more efficient way.

This isn’t the first time Springfield has developed an innovative healthcare tool. Several years ago we implemented FireMed, a voluntary ambulance membership plan whose members pay an annual fee to receive emergency ambulance service for all members of their household with no out-of-pocket costs. Our program now includes more than 80 FireMed plans throughout Oregon and California.

When city leaders looked at the data, they found that Cincinnati’s infant mortality rate is more than twice the national average. The analysis also showed that more than half of the deaths occurred in just five zip codes. The health department created a plan to help women in those neighborhoods get pre-natal care as well as follow-up visits after the baby arrived. Mayor Mark Mallory describes the program:

For five years, we have tracked a group of moms throughout their pregnancies and used the data to implement life saving interventions for their babies. The moms in our network have 32% fewer infant deaths than the city as a whole. We want to bring this success citywide through a program called First Steps. From the first steps a pregnant mother takes into a healthcare facility, we want her to be on a path that will lead directly to her seeing the first steps her baby takes.

From the moment a woman finds out that she’s pregnant, we will enroll her in a secure database that follows her through the pregnancy and measures the interventions she receives. Often, these interventions aren’t complicated, but they are proven to save lives. For example, if a pregnant mother quits smoking, her baby has a 20% better chance of seeing its first birthday. Safe sleep is another great example. If a mom learns the best sleep habits for her baby, that baby is much less likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

In addition to saving lives, the program also has shown large decreases in prematurity rates. This leads to healthier babies and saves millions of dollars to healthcare system.

Veronica Combs

I was the editor in chief at I started writing and editing in the print world and joined a dotcom right before the 2000 crash. I was at TechRepublic/CNET/BNET for 7 years. Health was more interesting to me than the latest version of Windows, so I left for a startup tracking prescription drug news. A year later, MedTrackAlert was acquired by HealthCentral, so I shifted to audience research. The fun of daily news and interviewing smart people brought me to MedCity News in February 2012. More posts by Author

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