Ovia Health reduces premature births for its members

It’s no secret that pregnancy and childbirth can come with a long list of life-threatening conditions and significant hospital bills. But Ovia Health, a family health benefits platform, is confident that the right care can reverse dangerous trends.

Preterm births, or births that occur before 37 weeks of pregnancy, affected 10% of the US population in 2020, according to the March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the health of mothers and babies. Premature birth can lead to a higher probability of death or disability for the baby, who is not fully developed in those final weeks of pregnancy. Meanwhile, mothers are more likely to suffer from postpartum mood and anxiety disorders.

Read more: Not just ‘breadwinners’: Why companies should support working fathers as carers

Fortunately, premature births should not be left entirely to chance.

Ovia Health examined over 10,000 insurance claims from members and non-members and found that those who engaged in Ovia’s preterm birth prevention program reduced their chances of preterm birth by 54%. The control group (non-Ovia members) had a preterm birth rate of 8.3%, while Ovia members recorded 3.8%. This means Ovia’s tools and care team were able to make a physical and financial difference, says Dr. Leslie Saltzman, chief medical officer at Ovia Health.

“Babies born prematurely can have impaired development in their organs, such as the lungs, brain and heart,” says Dr. Saltzman. “Instead of going home with their parents, these babies have to spend a long time in neonatal intensive care units – and depending on how early their birth was, these injuries can be lifelong. life.”

The National Center for Health Statistics found that preterm birth and low birth weight accounted for about 17% of infant deaths in 2019. Premature babies are also at higher risk for asthma, hearing loss, delayed teething, vision problems, neurological disorders and cerebral palsy.

Read more: Resy and Pumpspotting are bringing breastfeeding support to restaurant workers

These potential complications are only compounded by the health care costs associated with premature births. The March of Dimes estimates that a premature baby spends an average of 25.4 days in a special care nursery, costing families $144,692. In fact, preterm births add $26.2 billion to US health care costs each year.

“I noticed that people aren’t really thinking about what happens if their baby is born prematurely and what that could mean in terms of cost,” says Dr. Saltzman. “It’s a difficult thing for people to think about their pregnancy in terms of what happens if something goes wrong.”

That is why Dr. Saltzman hopes Ovia’s platform can do a lot of thinking for its patients. She notes that because Ovia identifies pre-existing health risks as well as tracks any that develop during pregnancy, such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, Ovia’s care team can create personalized care pathways for its members. Additionally, members have access to women’s healthcare doctors, health coaches and parenting experts every day of the week, with unlimited sessions. If a parent notices a change in their health or is experiencing increased stress, they can talk to someone who knows how to manage maternal health threats—and that guidance can be the difference between committing to one’s health and letting go of worries to slip, explains Dr. Saltzman. .

“When a pregnant person engages with our care team, it motivates them to understand their health and be compliant with interventions like medication and dietary changes,” she says. “It inspires them to make those long-term behavioral changes and feel like they can affect their baby’s health.”

Read more: How American policy has failed breastfeeding parents

Continued care during pregnancy would be especially beneficial for black mothers, who are 50% more likely to give birth prematurely than white women. A study entitled “African American Women’s Views on Factors Affecting Preterm Birth” found that education and economic status are not even major risk factors for black pregnant women. Rather, physical, psychological, and social stressors stemming from lack of social support, poor nutrition, and persistent racial discrimination lead to chronic elevations in stress hormones, which in turn lead to preterm birth. Dr. Saltzman points out that this is why Ovia’s clinicians and experts must also be able to provide culturally competent care. A one-size-fits-all approach is not care, she says.

Given that 86% of US women have one or more children by age 40 to 44, according to the Pew Research Center, maternal health is not a minority issue. Dr. Saltzman advises employers to invest in family health—or risk pregnancy complications, costing the company money and talent.

“The stress caused by premature births in the family is great,” says Dr. Saltzman. “Supporting people to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies is not only a way to make employees happier, but a way to allow people to be more present when they return to work. These results improved health benefits go beyond mothers and form whole families.”

Leave a Comment