Hoosier Momma app aims to reduce infant deaths

By By LOUISE RONALD

RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) — A Richmond company has developed the Innovation of the Year for a statewide software competition.

"Hoosier Momma" provides information about health and resources to expectant mothers. The application doesn't require the mother to own a smartphone but can be used with a number of different devices. Information can be tailored to the mother's particular needs, including any risk factors she or the baby might face, and in the language of the mother's choice.

In July, the Indiana State Department of Health challenged software developers around the state to create ways to help reduce infant mortality rates — part of the Hoosier Healthcare Innovation Challenge contest sponsored by Develop Indy, Techpoint, Lilly, Indiana Health Information Technology, Ice Miller and Lodestone Logic.

Jamie Schnitzius and Jonathan Meade of Richmond, co-founders of CreateIT Healthcare Solutions, and Indianapolis developer Joshua Thaxton started working on ideas as soon as the challenge was issued.

"We really just got together in a room and had brainstorm sessions over and over and over," Schnitzius told the Palladium-Item (http://pinews.co/1cdEnV7 ). He said the team kept asking itself three questions: Who will use the app? What do they need? And what can we deliver in the time frame of the contest?

All three developers have full-time jobs in addition to their work with CreateIT.

The company was a finalist in the same contest last year with Aftercare Insight, a program designed to increase doctor-patient communication and create easy-to-follow home-care instructions after a patient's release from the hospital.

This year, CreateIT and Hoosier Momma took home the grand prize.

"We try to reduce infant mortality by pushing information out to expectant mothers," Meade said. "We're trying to dispel some of the myths."

For example, Meade said, some mothers have heard that smoking when pregnant will make delivery less painful because the baby will be smaller. The company works with the Department of Health and other organizations such as the March of Dimes to develop information that will counter such falsehoods.

"It's good, solid information," Meade said.

Every effort has been made to make the application engaging and fun. Mothers trying to reach a goal such as quitting smoking or lowering blood sugar levels can earn points such as those in online games. The application provides a social network where mothers can exchange insights and encourage one another. Notification of free or discounted baby items is expected to keep interest high.

All sorts of information can be entered into the program, but individual mothers receive only what applies to their own circumstances.

"You want to make your messages relevant to your audience," Schnitzius said.

A description of the application on CreateIT's website gives this example: "A provider could ... send out a message in English targeting all expecting mothers who have enrolled in the Smoking Cessation program. Mothers enrolled in that program could receive that message in not only the language of their choice, but also the medium of their choice, be it ... text message, an automated voice call or an email, or even via our mobile app. All these translations can be done in real time."

The application also provides information about doctors and clinics near the mother as well as government agencies, not-for-profits and other resources that might be helpful.

Hoosier Momma is set to begin testing in January, and a pilot program with Raphael Health Center in Indianapolis is in the works.

"We're hoping that we can roll it out next year," Meade said.

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Information from: Palladium-Item, http://www.pal-item.com

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