In recent years, the Healthy Mom and Baby Innovation Competition focused on infant mortality rates by uncovering new and innovative ways to improve health outcomes for Indiana mothers and infants. This year, the competition is setting its sights on reducing maternal mortality for underrepresented mothers. With the assistance of Sarah Giaquinta, MD, vice president of Community Health for Parkview Health, and Erin Norton, RN, BSN, MBA, director of Community Outreach, Parkview Women’s & Children’s Hospital, we had the opportunity to learn more about this year’s competition and why it’s a vital component in both reducing the incidence of maternal mortality and enhancing the wellbeing for both mother and child.
We need your help
In collaboration with MATTER, Parkview Health is proud to present the Healthy Mom and Baby Innovation Competition 2.0. During this global call to action, we’re seeking products, software and program solutions that can reduce the incidence of maternal mortality while helping us better support at-risk pregnant and new mothers throughout their healthcare journey and daily lives.
“This is a persistent issue. While we can make short-term improvements, they often require considerable resources and aren’t always sustainable,” Sarah affirmed. “This competition provides us with an opportunity to come up with a lasting solution or ways to continue the great work that is already happening at a lower cost and more efficiently. Innovation is essential based on the persistence of this issue. We must continue to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of those we serve.”
Over the past 30 years, there is no doubt that we have witnessed significant improvements in the medical treatment options for maternal and infant care. However, maternal mortality, the death of a woman while pregnant or within one year of the end of pregnancy due to a cause related to or made worse by the pregnancy or its management, is still a challenge for both developed and developing regions worldwide.
The United States continues to see higher per-capita maternal deaths. Women in the U.S. are the most likely to die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. In 2018, there were 17 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births, a ratio that more than doubles that of most other high-income countries.  And, unfortunately, vast racial/ethnic inequities exist for mothers of color, with black mothers over double the maternal mortality rate of non-Hispanic white mothers (37.3 compared with 14.9 per 100,000 deaths). 
“In Fort Wayne, we know that infants of color are dying at disproportionately higher rates than white infants. Sadly, this is not a new trend. This is an example of a health inequity that has persisted for years, despite incredible advances in medicine,” Sarah explained. “The social determinants of health, or conditions under which people are born, grow, live, work and age, significantly contribute to the health inequities that exist in our community. These include issues such as inadequate or unstable housing, poverty, exposure to violence and neighborhood deterioration. As a healthcare system, we understand the impact of the social determinants of health on infant and maternal mortality and other health outcomes. Still, these are more difficult to address in the clinical setting. As a result, we must consider new, innovative, and sustainable ways to promote the health of women and children in our community. We need to begin to think outside the box when it comes to health promotion and use of technology to address many of the barriers that women face today as they try to access quality, affordable care.”
Moreover, the well-documented social determinants of health play a significant role in many of the health inequities we see today, including maternal and infant health. In Indiana, women with a high school degree/GED or less accounted for 65% of all pregnancy-associated deaths in 2018.  The state of Indiana’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC) recognizes that mortality is a crucial indicator of maternal health quality in Indiana. Each maternal death represents the loss of a woman’s life and the impact that loss has on her family and community. 
“Supporting women is the rising tide that lifts all boats,” Erin reiterated. “Through improving the health of pregnant women, we will not just prevent mortality but also morbidity and the costs associated with it.”
Fortunately, through the 2020 Maternal Deaths in Indiana report, the MMRC determined that 87% of reviewed pregnancy-associated deaths were preventable.  This is where Parkview and the state of Indiana can take action.
What we are looking for
In order to address this growing maternal health issue, Parkview Health is proud to partner with MATTER to explore, source and pilot digital and device-enabled innovations. We are seeking solutions focused on, but not limited to, the following:
- Chronic diseases like hypertension and/or diabetes
- Accessibility to providers and medication, including prenatal care
- Community support
- Mental and physical health
- Substance abuse assistance
- Birth spacing
- Addressing drivers and social determinants of health such as access, housing stability, healthy food access and insurance status
Some examples of appropriate solutions could include:
- Addressing health conditions that disproportionately affect underrepresented mothers/babies
- Access to care
- Food and nutrition insecurities
- Housing uncertainty
- Bias training in healthcare for physicians and staff
- Transportation issues
How to apply
The Healthy Mom and Baby Competition 2.0 is open to existing startups and anyone with an innovative idea for a product, solution, or service that fits within the competition scope. Prizes include the opportunity to pilot the winning solution with Parkview Health, a cash award and a one-year membership at MATTER. Interested companies can learn more and apply here. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.
As maternal mortality continues to be a challenge, we can’t thank our partnering organizations, MATTER, the HIMSS Indiana Chapter and the Management Performance Hub, enough for teaming up with us again for this year’s innovation competition. With their assistance and the support of our community, we can significantly impact this growing health concern.
 The Indiana 2020 Maternal Mortality Report