High-risk infants enrolled in a home visiting program in Arkansas between 2013 and 2017 were more than four times less likely to die in infancy than high-risk infants not enrolled in the program, according to a study by researchers with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and ACHI that was published online today (June 3) by Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The study assessed the impacts of Following Baby Back Home (FBBH), a program developed by UAMS’ Department of Pediatrics that seeks to improve health outcomes for high-risk infants by providing health-oriented home visiting and care management services following the infants’ discharge from neonatal intensive care.
Researchers studied rates of mortality, immunization, and healthcare use among 498 low-birth-weight, preterm infants enrolled in FBBH and among a group of similarly high-risk infants not enrolled in the program. Infants enrolled in FBBH were 4.4 times less likely to die within a year of birth than non-enrolled infants, according to the study.
The study also found that infants enrolled in the program were significantly more likely to have higher levels of immunization completion and necessary healthcare usage than non-enrolled infants.
“A goal of the FBBH home visiting program is to work with parents to educate and support them as they care for their medically fragile infants,” the study’s authors wrote. “We conclude that education and support was instrumental in the infant healthcare use and outcome differences we observed during the first year of life.”
The authors of the study are UAMS Associate Professor Dr. Lorraine McKelvey, ACHI Assistant Director of Health Policy Research Dr. Kanna Lewis, UAMS Assistant Professor Dr. Jared Beavers, UAMS Professor Dr. Patrick Casey, UAMS Following Baby Back Home Program Director Carmen Irby, and ACHI Director of Research and Evaluation Dr. Anthony Goudie.
A report on the study is available on our website.
The study also was discussed during a May 20 presentation as part of the Arkansas Department of Health’s Grand Rounds lecture series. During that presentation, ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson said Arkansas’s Medicaid expansion program ― slated to be revamped next year as Arkansas Health and Opportunity for Me, or ARHOME, pending federal approval ― will provide opportunities for hospitals across the state to provide home visiting services to families of high-risk infants.
Several home visiting programs are already operating in Arkansas, and at least two of them, FBBH and Healthy Families America, have had “some pretty astounding results,” Thompson said.