According to the March of Dimes, 9.9% of babies in the United States are born prematurely, which can have profound implications on both healthcare costs and quality of life. What’s more, says Kevin Bramer, president and CEO of Lucina Health, “We’re the only country in the civilized world that’s actually getting worse on maternal and fetal mortality; we have on an annualized basis over 700 moms and over 33,000 babies die during childbirth.”
Bramer’s Louisville-based company is working to improve those statistics. It mines health plans’ data, looking for more than 3,000 data points that identify pregnant members early and 7,000 more data points—everything from drug abuse to mental-health issues to domestic violence—that could indicate a high-risk pregnancy.
(On January 13, Lucina Health's assets were acquired by United Women's Healthcare to support their mission of transforming women's healthcare.)
Louisville Future caught up with Kevin Bramer to learn more. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and conciseness.
What’s the impact of premature birth?
Bramer: The [neonatal intensive care unit] can be up to $5,000 a day. So when you equate it financially, it can get quite expensive for a baby that ends up in the NICU for 30 or 60 or 90 days. But there are lifetime implications, such as neurological deformation, pulmonary dysfunction, cardiovascular dysfunction, etc., that even adults deal with sometimes.
Talk about non-medical risk factors.
Bramer: Up in Warsaw, IN, for example, they have a 17% mortality rate for African American moms. It’s not because they’re African American; it’s because of elements of social trauma, substance abuse, mental-health issues, and inability to get to the grocery store and the doctor’s office.
How successful is Lucina Health at identifying expectant moms?
Bramer: We find 86% of all moms in the first and second trimester—usually about 50+% of those moms in the first trimester. In many cases we know before the physician even knows and certainly before the health plan knows. Believe it or not, health plans sometimes don’t even know a mom is going through their system. Yes, claims are paid. Yes, office visits are held. But the company really doesn’t know that Mom is at certain risk and doesn’t do anything about it.
What do you do with your results?
Bramer: We flag those moms who are in the top 10% to 15%. That information becomes readily available to the care manager at the health plan so that they’re focusing all their attention on those moms who are at the highest risk.
Why locate your company in Louisville?
Bramer: I’m from Louisville and fortunately was able to start at Norton Healthcare and learn a lot from some really amazing clinicians and managers. Louisville offers a real opportunity for that kind of learning, because we have a strong healthcare market, especially with Humana, Kindred Healthcare, and the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council. We’ve got a wealth of talent in this market around data science and data analytics that is a bit untapped.
Any final words?
The reason we’re so passionate about this business is that it’s not just an investment. This is a mission-driven company that has a real passion around changing the world.
For more information, visit www.lucinahealth.com.