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Michigan HHS Adopts App to Aid Pregnant, Postpartum People

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services adopted a mobile application from Royal Philips to provide pregnant and postpartum Michiganders access to information and personalized content.

A person with a pregnant belly holds a smartphone.
To improve access to health care for pregnant and postpartum Michiganders, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has enabled access to a new mobile application.

MDHHS selected Royal Philips to provide access for Medicaid-eligible families to the Philips Pregnancy+ mobile application, according to Dawn M. Shanafelt, director of both Michigan’s Division of Maternal and Infant Health, and Michigan’s Title V Maternal Child Health program.

The agency aims to have a “No Wrong Door” approach for families, Shanafelt explained, meaning that a resident should be able to use any available pathways to access care, and apps provide Michigan residents an additional route.

The Philips Pregnancy+ app was selected through a competitive bid process, Shanafelt said. This app was already available worldwide, and close to 30,000 Michigan families had already downloaded it prior to MDHHS working with Royal Phillips to identify and display Michigan-specific resources.

“Our primary purpose was really to increase knowledge about the services and the programs that we have in Michigan, and specifically, Michigan home-visiting programs that are really beneficial for families during the pregnancy and postpartum period,” she said.

In addition to the app tailoring information to a user’s specific needs based on the stage of pregnancy or postpartum period they are in, it has also been tailored to specific user needs of residents. Through numerous collaborative meetings with the Phillips team, MDHHS was able to ensure the app would highlight specific resources that would be beneficial to Michigan families.

As a result, Michigan’s Medicaid-eligible users can access unique content, including a “Today” feed, which recommends relevant content and tools throughout the user’s journey.

The top priority to include among Michigan-specific resources was information related to home-visiting services. Shanafelt underlined the importance of making families aware that these services are available, that evidence shows they improve birth outcomes, and they’re covered by Medicaid. As of January 2023, this includes home visitations from doulas.

Typically, residents could attain information about home-visiting programs and other educational resources through community and clinical provider MI Bridges, or by calling the 211 line. While these resources are still available, the app provides an additional route at families’ fingertips.

MDHHS used a variety of data sources to determine what information should be highlighted on the platform. One such source was feedback obtained through the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, as well as data from MI Bridges on the information families were frequently searching for. Aggregated data collected through the app will be analyzed to make future improvements.

And while the app will likely not have an impact on day-to-day staff operations for MDHHS employees, Shanafelt hopes that by increasing awareness, participation in these programs will increase.

If additional resources become available and MDHHS wants to get that information to residents, they can communicate that need to Royal Phillips to make changes.

This could also include information with seasonal relevance, like resources for flu and RSV season that may help Michigan families.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.