White House

Maternal health initiatives have been gaining traction on the national stage, and policy-makers are looking to innovators, providers, and patients to guide directives and funding channels.

Most recently, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy published a Request For Information seeking input “from community health stakeholders, technology developers, and other interested parties about how digital health technologies are used, or could be used in the future, to transform community health, individual wellness, and health equity.”

It comes on the heels of the Vice President’s Maternal Health Day of Action, where Harris announced that the Department of Health & Human Services and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are launching a new initiative to designate hospitals based on the quality of their maternal healthcare. The initiative also includes guidance to encourage states to extend their postpartum coverage for Medicaid, an important piece of improving maternal outcomes.

This federal interest in community and maternal health is both a sign of the severity of the problems it seeks to address, and also a confirmation of the value of digital tools for resolving them. Thanks to COVID, a new administration, and nationwide concerns over equity, momentum is behind digital health innovation — evidenced by these new initiatives and the massive amounts of grant funding that have been made available to health systems and innovators to propel adoption of virtual care. 

Those of us on the ground need to direct this momentum to the appropriate channels and encourage continued support from the government— support that will play a critical role in resolving logistical challenges to deploying and implementing digital health solutions. Policy-makers are particularly in a position to resolve financial challenges, driving payer buy-in for virtual tools by expanding reimbursement codes and budgeting federal funds to go towards these kinds of initiatives in the forms of grants, etc.

[Read: Why Health Startups Should Be Lobbying: Accelerating Healthcare Transformation]

Babyscripts has first-hand experience with guiding policy decisions. Last year, leaders at the company played a role in the passage of the DC Council’s Postpartum Coverage Expansion Amendment Act of 2020, proposing the language for the Digital Health Reimbursement Mandate. 

[Read: DC Council Passes Postpartum Coverage Expansion Amendment Act of 2020, Includes Digital Health Reimbursement Mandate]

We learned important lessons from that experience. Many of the council members were not aware that solutions like Babyscripts and others existed, which brought home to us the importance of educating decision-makers on the benefits and availability of virtual tools. Policy-makers want to forward digital health tools, but they need to be aware of what’s out there.

Organizations like the Maternal Applications of Technology for Community Health (MATCH)Coalition have made it their goal to educate policy-makers, soliciting participation from stakeholders across the health and life sciences community to improve maternal health outcomes through research, data, and innovations, and they have already achieved significant success in promoting maternal health initiatives. 

Stakeholders have a front-row seat to the problems facing mothers, as well as the obstacles preventing full-scale adoption of the tools that could resolve some of these issues. For that reason, they can and should be involved in guiding and directing government policy. 

We strongly encourage our clients, and all of those involved in bettering maternal health outcomes through technology, to submit a response to the OSTP Request For Information. Please reach out to your account representative or info@babyscripts.com with any questions or for more information on this initiative.

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