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The analytics platform of Louisville-based Lucina Health is helping Passport Health Plan to fight prematurity, company officials said.

The Lucina Health platform aggregates and analyzes patient and population data to identify pregnant women as soon as possible and determine whether they’re at high risk of delivering early, according to the company.

Premature birth and its complications are the No. 1 cause of death of U.S. babies. It can lead to a host of health problems, including bleeding in the brain, breathing difficulties, cerebral palsy, blindness and intellectual disabilities, according to the March of Dimes.

In the past, Passport, a managed care organization for Medicaid recipients, often wouldn’t know about a member’s pregnancy until a claim was filed by the health care provider, which could be late in the pregnancy, said Steve Houghland, Passport’s chief medical officer.

Now, this technology “is kind of running in the background all the time and pulling data from a number of different sources,” such as pharmacy and census tract information, Houghland said. It’s looking at things “that are somewhat predictive of both pregnancy and, in particular, related to the risk of a preterm pregnancy or an adverse event during pregnancy.”

By identifying the mom – typically 30 to 60 days earlier than a health plan – the technology helps to “improve the overall time that we have to help a mom,” the Lucina Health founder and chief executive Kevin Bramer said.

The technology “was able to identify 85 percent of pregnant mothers within the first two trimesters for Passport Health Plan,” according to Lucina Health. There also was “a 13 percent reduction in early deliveries within the first six months of using the platform.”

A care manager works with high-risk moms over the phone to address things like high blood pressure, obesity, smoking and substance abuse, that could lead to premature birth, Bramer said. They also may discuss other issues, such as domestic violence or lack of transportation, that could be causing stress or trauma.

In some instances, “moms have had healthy babies because we’ve gotten then properly weaned off of opiates,” Bramer said. “That’s really important.”

Kentucky earned a D earlier this year on an annual report card from the March of Dimes. Kentucky’s rate was about 11 percent in 2017, compared with the national rate of 9.9 percent.

Passport’s chief executive, Mark Carter, noted in a statement: “Our partnership with Lucina Health gives us a technology edge that is so important to reach our Medicaid members and help improve their health and outcomes.”

Darla Carter
Darla Carter is a hometown girl who recently joined the staff of Insider Louisville to mostly cover health. She previously served as a longtime health and fitness writer for The Courier-Journal, where she also worked for the Metro, Neighborhoods and Features departments. Prior to that, the award-winning journalist wrote for newspapers elsewhere in Kentucky and Tennessee, covering a range of topics, from education to courts. She's a graduate of Western Kentucky University, where she studied journalism and philosophy, and is the proud mom of two young children.