Epic creating tool to disrupt racial disparity in birth outcomes

Epic is developing a software tool to help address racial disparities in birth outcomes by connecting black mothers' prenatal care process with their social needs, according to The Cap Times.

The software tool, called Coordinated Care Management, is being developed by Epic in partnership with Madison, Wis.-based Dane County Health Council to help streamline the medical and nonmedical care black mothers need during and after pregnancy. 

The health system's most recent data shows that the countywide black infant mortality rate was as high as 15.4 infant deaths per 1,000 live births from 2015-17. Dane County babies born to black mothers are also two times more likely to be delivered at a low birth weight than babies born to white mothers, which often leads to significant health challenges as the infant grows up.

Coordinated Care Management seeks to facilitate effective communication between the patients, healthcare providers and community services. Healthcare providers regularly track risk factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption in prenatal patients, but it is currently very rare to track factors like housing or food insecurity, 

"A person's health care is more than just what's happening in the walls of the clinic or the hospital. Social factors play a major role in a person's health," Cameron Kunkel, a project manager for Epic, told The Cap Times.

Dane County healthcare providers will tailor the program to each patient's individual needs, assigning case managers to those who need the most support navigating social services. Black mothers who enroll in the program will be assigned a community health worker or doula, who will attend appointments and offer support throughout the pregnancy, based on the risk factors they self-identify.

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