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Improving Maternal and Infant Health Equity Through Technology

photo of The White House

Knowing that the refrigerator and pantry are stocked and that all types of food and restaurants are right around the corner is something that many people take for granted. Sadly, millions of Americans in our underserved communities deal with hunger and diet-related diseases including heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes daily.  

This important issue is the topic of discussion at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health set for this month — 53 years since the last time researchers, business leaders, activists and politicians gathered to develop an agenda to guide our nation’s nutritional priorities. Several key initiatives resulted from that meeting, including life-changing programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), school lunches and changes to how we label foods.

The conference, hosted by the Biden-Harris Administration, will gather people representing the public and private sectors to discuss a coordinated strategy to accelerate progress and drive transformative change in the United States. The goals are specific and ambitious: “… to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, and close the disparities surrounding them.”

This is a vitally important issue with five objectives in scope for the conference:

    1. Improving food access and affordability
    2. Integrating nutrition and health 
    3. Empowering all consumers to make and have access to healthy choices 
    4. Supporting physical activity for all 
    5. Enhancing nutrition and food security research

Gainwell Technologies has long been involved in supporting these objectives through our work in human services and public health, which encompasses Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), WIC and others.

As part of this commitment, Gainwell recently participated in a dialogue informing the White House Conference with Good Food Dialogues — leading a session on “Technology and Nutrition: Equalizing Maternal and Infant Health.” Along with a group of invested and engaged shapers of our communities, we discussed existing programs in states around the country, what barriers people may face and how to drive recipient engagement through technology integration — with the goal of improving nutrition for better maternal and infant health outcomes. Technology is playing an increasingly important role in connecting disparate programs and reaching targeted audiences through various channels.

Our hosting the Good Food Dialogues session made Gainwell part of the national conversation aiming to shape policy approaches, solutions and the agenda for making necessary changes for the years ahead. Feedback and other outcomes from the Dialogues were submitted to the White House to help inform the agenda for the upcoming Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health and will be communicated beyond the conference to stimulate change and a positive movement.

Shaping Progress, Moving Forward

We have come a long way since that last White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health more than a half century ago. Technology has played a remarkable role, more recently enabling virtual meetings with doctors — particularly with the unwelcome arrival of COVID-19 and its variants — and putting easier access to food and transportation at our fingertips. Still, for many, there are additional barriers to access.

Findings from our Dialogues session highlighted the need for education for our target audiences, such as helping new mothers get more from their program benefits, vital nutrition and healthy-eating information for babies and adults, and nurturing support for pregnant and breastfeeding women in these vulnerable communities. Technology can provide the link via community-based social media, program-specific apps that provide information and notifications, and even video consultations. It can create health-enhancing connections for program recipients.

We stand firm in our commitment to developing and providing solutions that will break down the barriers standing between recipients and the healthcare services, programs and information they need.

Veronica Adamson, Vice President, General Manager, Human Services and Public Health

Harrison Rhodes, Senior Product Manager, Early Intervention and WIC