Source: ThinkStock

– Telehealth and mHealth are expected to play a major role in a multi-state effort to improve care for expectant mothers dealing with opioid abuse and their children.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is awarding grants to 10 states who are implementing the Maternal Opioid Misuse (MOM) Model, a five-year, Medicaid-based program in which state agencies and healthcare providers create new models of care that incorporate connected health and combine clinical, behavioral and community-based services.

“Public health crises on the scale of the opioid epidemic call for a focused, coordinated approach on all levels of care,” CMS Principal Deputy Administrator Kimberly Brandt said in a press release issued in December. “Unfortunately, mothers and children suffering from substance use disorders all too often receive just the opposite today – namely, care that is fragmented and ineffective.”

“CMS is granting these funds to programs and states throughout the nation that have the ability to reverse that state of affairs,” Brandt added. “Those suffering from substance use disorders have enough on their plate without worrying about getting access to the healthcare supports they need. CMS will stop at nothing to support them in their road to recovery.”

In Maine, which is receiving $5.3 million in federal funds, a coalition that includes the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and six health systems will develop a “statewide system of evidence-based and comprehensive care” through MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program. In 2018, the state received more than 900 reports of infants born to mothers dealing with substance abuse, accounting for about 7 percent of the state’s live births.

“Critical components of the MOM model include creating a ‘no wrong door’ system to screening, welcoming and engaging women in care; supporting the treatment and recovery of mothers with group-based medication-assisted treatment; increasing the capacity of integrated care teams to deliver evidence-based care, including through telehealth; coordinating delivery, hospital, and post-partum care for mothers and infants; enhancing home visiting and community supports; and conducting a public outreach campaign,” the MDHHS said in a press release issued this week.

With regard to telehealth and mHealth, the model might include using telemedicine technology to connect expectant and new mothers with care providers and specialists, using mHealth apps and messaging platforms to improve substance abuse care management, and enrolling woman in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs that use telehealth to overcome access issues.

Along the Maine, the other states receiving federal grant funding are Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

In addition, CMS is issuing eight awards to seven states implementing the Integrated Care for Kids (InCK) Model, which “aims to improve child health, reduce avoidable inpatient stays and out-of-home placement, and create sustainable payment models to coordinate physical and behavioral health care with services to address health-related needs.”

Telehealth and mHealth are expected to feature prominently in that program as well, as states develop partnerships that focus on care coordination and management for children with complex clinical and behavioral health concerns.

The states involved in that program are Illinois, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon.

“InCK funding will provide (those states) with the flexibility to design interventions for their local communities that align health care delivery with child welfare support, educational systems, housing and nutrition services, mobile crisis response services, maternal and child health systems, and other relevant service systems,” the CMS stated in its press release. “By bringing together medical, behavioral, and community-based services, InCK strives to reduce fragmentation in service delivery and expand access to care for children and youth.”

“The MOM and InCK Models are a unique opportunity for healthcare providers to improve care for mothers and infants affected by the opioid crisis, and the models represent another step in President Trump’s agenda to address two significant public health challenges: the opioid crisis and maternal health by providing holistic, compassionate treatment and recovery services,” added Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in the press release. “The models also are aimed at promoting more coordination and integration of care to improve health for children with complex needs and drive better outcomes, and we look forward to assessing the results of our participants as they work to support some of the most vulnerable mothers, infants and children.”

Source: CMS Grants to Help States Use Telehealth, mHealth for Pregnant Moms, Kids