Optima Health’s three year old program to improve prenatal care for women on Medicaid has won a national award from the Disease Management Association of America (DMAA). Partners in Pregnancy has brought significant reductions in admissions to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), in lengths of stay for babies in NICUs and in the costs of hospitalizations. Optima Health is the health plan division of Norfolk-based Sentara Healthcare.
“This kind of program can greatly reduce taxpayer costs for Medicaid, while improving the health of the newborns,” says David Levin, M.D., founder and medical director of the program. “We estimate a savings of $6.3 million in hospital costs and 5800 days in NICU avoided during a 21 month survey period.”
Optima Health’s Medicaid Managed Care program, Optima Family Care, is the largest in Virginia, with 109,000 members throughout the state. Partners in Pregnancy targets women at risk for premature births and low birth weight babies. A multi-disciplinary team coaches them through their pregnancies with intensive telephone contact and home visits which encourage good prenatal behavior and regular physician checkups. Partners in Pregnancy is also offered to all Optima Health commercial members, as the evidence shows this model works.
“The goal is full-term pregnancies,” says program manager Nancy Jallo, RN, FNP. “Full term babies are less likely to have low birth weights or complications that require hospitalization,” she continues. “Healthier babies mean healthier children and healthier Virginians.”
Others praise Partners in Pregnancy
The Partners in Pregnancy model is so promising, it was recently awarded a national study grant from the Center for Health Care Strategies to measure ‘A Business Case for Quality’ in Medicaid management programs.