Hack4Equity: Working toward solutions for Georgia’s Black mothers
In September of 2021, 250 innovators came together to address one of the United States’ most urgent challenges: mothers dying from pregnancy complications. Learn about their ideas to help improve health equity.
Today, the United States is the most dangerous place in the developing world to give birth. The risk increases significantly for Black women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black mothers in the U.S. die from maternal health complications at three to four times the rate of white mothers, making maternal morbidity and mortality one of the most profound racial inequities in women’s health. Georgia is among the states with the highest maternal mortality rates, especially for Black women.
“In this state with the third-largest Black population in the U.S., too many women live in healthcare deserts, isolated from the care they need,” said Dr. Robyn Jones, Senior Medical Director of Women’s Health at Johnson & Johnson. “Since 1994 with health care sites closing, over half of Georgia’s counties have been left with no OB-GYN care or services.”
Hack4Equity—supported by Johnson & Johnson, Accenture, Microsoft and Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia—convened 250 innovators and creative thinkers. They were then split into 17 teams, to crowdsource solutions to address this critical public health threat. Teams were asked to ideate on the following four topics:
- Improving maternal healthcare
- Reducing racial inequities in health systems
- Building community-based equity by addressing structural racism and social determinants of health
- An open topic to advance health equity in Georgia
The innovative solutions produced from this hackathon reflect the robust problem-solving and creative thinking skills of the participants. The winning teams came up with novel solutions that have the potential to improve maternal health equity for Black women in Georgia and beyond.
Here are some of the winning teams and their solutions:
Improving Individual Healthcare
Motley Crew designed an idea for an app focused on three core pillars of maternal health support: education, care and community. The app would provide users with Lamaze childbirth resources, an interactive map to help locate near-by providers, access to a 24/7 chat with women of similar gestational age and live and recorded training sessions to provide support. The initial prototype of the app focuses on Medicaid recipients, but the hope is to expand access to all Black families in Georgia. The Motley Crew team was made up of a Registered Nurse with 20+ years of experience, a Georgia-based high school student and a machine learning engineer.
Team members: Kiana Ayers, RN, IBCLC, LCCE; Pooja Kanyadan; Aditi Nair
Reducing Racial Inequities in Health System
House of Hope
The House of Hope application aims to create a virtual “pregnancy and perinatal medical home” for pregnant Black women. The virtual medical home uses a traceable, digital footprint to deliver standardized and personalized care, as well as embedded decision supports, communication with the care team and connection to resources and community-based underpinnings to achieve practice consistency. Creating consistency of practice through evidence-based algorithms has the potential to transform care. The House of Hope team was made up of a maternal and child health medical doctor, a family medicine doctor and other maternal health advocates and innovators.
Team members: Karla L Booker, M.D., FACOG, FAAFP; Sameer Doshi; Anne l. Dunlop, M.D., MPH, FAAFP; Arlene C Mabrey; Sumeet Ranu
Building Community-Based Equity: Addressing Structural Racism & Social Determinants of Health
Jumana Care is a community-based app for Black mothers in Georgia that helps them match with certified doulas, join group prenatal sessions, document their feelings throughout their pregnancy and find social resources like childcare and transportation. To bridge communication gaps between clinicians and expectant individuals, the app integrates with electronic health records, offering providers vital patient insights such as their health literacy level. Jumana Care aims to help women have safer pregnancies and feel empowered. The Jumana Care team representatives collectively brought expertise in experience design, research, public health strategy, content strategy, marketing, branding and project management.
Team members: Elham Ali, Chanel Conigan, Nadia Kim, Justine Leach, Amrita Shankar
Open Topic to Advance Maternal Health Equity in Georgia
Olive4Equity aims to amplify the voices of Black mothers. Perinatal cardiovascular complications are the leading cause of death among Black mothers in Georgia. To address this health crisis, Olive4Equity proposes a program that provides remote and integrated blood pressure monitoring to mothers in the immediate postpartum period. This solution will allow women to access care from home, reducing travel time to appointments and providing Black mothers with objective data to advocate for timely care. The Olive4Equity team was made up of two data scientists and an use experience researcher and designer.
Team members: Megan Bultema, Jackie Kokx, Rosie Martinez, Kashif Ross
Participants were grateful they were able to engage in the hackathon, some sharing that it was an “opportunity to meet individuals who care about maternal health and health equity who are FAR outside of the ‘health’ field, who can actually employ tools to help us in health care.”
Others enjoyed the collaboration and reflected that “it was awesome to see how invested my other teammates were. I had the opportunity to share my family’s experience (particularly from my wife’s perspective) with the struggles we faced in hospitals. And it felt like the solution our team arrived at was a plausible start for a potential software.”
Congratulations to the winning teams and thank you for your support in driving solutions to advance maternal health equity. Winners will receive cash prizes and mentorship from innovation and venture experts to help scale the top four ideas.