Lucina logoA Louisville-based health care startup unveiled its new HQ today and launched its first tech product geared toward improving the health of expectant mothers and their infants.

Lucina was created in early 2015 to employ data analysis to reduce preterm birth and to cut costs.

Preterm births — before 37 weeks of pregnancy — are a “very big problem here in the United States,” Lucina CEO Kevin Bramer told IL.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preterm birth is the greatest contributor to infant death, with most preterm-related deaths occurring among babies who were born very preterm (before 32 weeks) and a leading cause of long-term neurological disabilities. Preterm birth affects about about one of every 10 infants born in the United States. On its website, Lucina says that rate is increasing, and that the U.S. ranks worse than 40 countries.

Globally, 15 million babies are born prematurely every year, and about 1.1 million die from preterm birth complications, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO said three quarters of the deaths could be prevented with “current, cost-effective interventions.”

Kevin Bramer
Kevin Bramer

Lucina, named after the Roman goddess of childbirth, is working with its first client, Passport Health Plan, to use historic and real-time data to predict which pregnant women might develop what types of complications, and to identify ways to mitigate the risk for those complications.

Bramer said the company’s approach will allow women to use real-time information to take better care of themselves and avoid adverse outcomes, such as long stays in a neonatal intensive care unit. And fewer adverse outcomes means Lucina’s clients save money.

The company collects and analyzes available data — from health claims, patient history, whether they’re staying on their medication — and offers steps the mother can take to avoid any complications. Lucina’s approach includes an app that can collect data from the mothers — while also giving them information about their health benefits or tips on nutrition.

Eventually, the company hopes to combine its data aggregation system with other tech, such as mobile fitness devices or fetal heartbeat monitors.

An example of a welcome screen of Lucina's app. Instead of "mylucina" consumers likely will see the brand of their healthcare provider.
Example of a Lucina app welcome screen.

Former Apple CEO John Sculley had told IL recently that health care companies must focus more on innovation and technology if they want to gain control of the unsustainable cost structure in the $2.5 trillion industry. Sculley said cloud computing — using remote Internet servers for data storage and examination — and big data analytics — looking for patterns and other insights in large sets of data, could produce significant savings and improve health outcomes.

The company employs six, but expects to hire another 10 to 15 in the next year, Bramer said.

Lucina will generate revenues based on contracts with health providers such as Passport. Contracts can be structured in different ways, Bramer said, including on a member-per-month basis.

Bramer said the company expects to grow “quite a bit” over the next three to four years and plans to add four to six new health plans nationally.

While the company is focusing on the women’s health market, especially pregnancy, Bramer said Lucina’s expertise and approach also eventually could be used to address other conditions, such as diabetes and obesity.

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Boris Ladwig
Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.