Analytics help Indiana in efforts to lower infant mortality rates

Through the help of data analytics, Indiana is making strides in tackling one of its biggest problems--a high infant mortality rate.

The Hoosier State has one of the highest such rates in the country, so officials decided to make that the focus of their first effort using the state's data analytics infrastructure, according to a Government Technology article. In August, the state announced it would sift through and pair together "disparate data sets" from "various government agencies," such as its department of health and its Family and Social Services Administration, to look for trends. With the help of a consulting group, the state analyzed the data sets, which included information for infants and mothers, such as financial data, criminal history and healthcare information.

Indiana found that the number of prenatal visits was the most predictive of adverse birth outcomes, according to a report on the effort. About 65 percent of infant deaths were to mothers with less than 10 visits.

Some of the data for infants and mothers analyzed in the report included financial data, criminal history and healthcare information. That data was combined with demographic data so the researchers then could map out the results.

Now that the state knows how important prenatal visits are, it can find ways to help get mothers to the doctor's office, Indiana Chief Information Officer Paul Baltzell told Government Technology.

"That's one of the simple things we were like, 'Wow,'" Baltzell said. "In some cases, it's just a matter of getting the mother to the appointment."

In addition, the data is causing a push for funding and programs for infant mortality in Indiana's next budget, which will be debated in April.

The use of analytics to target healthcare issues for specific populations is growing.

In Maryland, for instance, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene used data from the state's HIE to see if it could tackle the overdose problem in the state. The department then used that information to find out if those that died from overdoses had been admitted to a hospital or emergency department with previous overdoses, Andrea Bankoski, virtual data unit manager at DHMH, said at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's annual meeting in the District of Columbia last week.

To learn more:
- read the article
- check out the study (.pdf)