Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) has awarded more than $200,000 for a new study that will focus on lowering the rate of early births in Lexington.
BCBSNE awarded its Fund for Quality and Efficient Health Care to the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) for the study to be conducted in central Nebraska. The study will begin in January 2015.
The BCBSNE Fund for Quality and Efficient Health Care provides financial support for new and innovative programs designed to improve care and reduce medical expenses.
“This research is a real grassroots effort to address the health concerns of the communities and their providers,” said Dr. Mary Cramer, UNMC College of Nursing, who is the study’s principal investigator.
Pre-term birth, or the birth of a baby more than three weeks before the due date, is a rising concern in Nebraska. According to the March of Dimes, 1 in 9 births in the state is pre-term.
The study will target pregnant women in Lexington and Kearney, and researches the impact of combining regular interactions with a community health worker and health-related text messages.
“Pre-term birth is a serious issue,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, vice president and chief medical officer, medical care and medical management at BCBSNE, “This innovative study gives moms-to-be access to the information they need to have the healthiest pregnancy possible.”
The mobile technology being used for the study is supplied by GoMo Health. Their Concierge Care condition-specific programs are used by health plans, hospitals and other health care organizations around the US to deploy patient engagement and education.
Dr. Cramer worked with health care providers and community leaders to develop the program, including the Central Nebraska Prenatal Community Advisory Board, Central Health Center, Lexington Regional Health Center and Arbor Health Plan, a Medicaid health plan. The Board is co-led by Stephen Lazoritz, M.D., Arbor Health Plan network medical director, and Ken Shaffer, M.D., UniNet medical director in Kearney.
“Arbor Health Plan is excited about the implementation of this important project, and especially pleased to partner with the UNMC College of Nursing,” said Dr. Lazoritz. “Together we hope to learn innovative strategies that will improve the health and well-being of mothers and their babies.”
“Physicians have been looking for years for ways to decrease the rate of premature births,” said Dr. Shaffer. “This innovative community based research involving a community health worker and mobile technology working with our medical community may be one of the answers.”