Mon Health, Morgantown-based Moodr blaze new path for helping moms with postpartum depression

MORGANTOWN – Mon Health System is working with a technology platform developed in Morgantown to help expectant and post-delivery moms deal with mental health challenges, and together they hope to reach out to other health systems to make it the gold standard of perinatal care.

The platform is Moodr Health, a startup from Intermed Labs and Morgantown tech firm M&S Consulting.

Intermed told The Dominion Post earlier this year that Moodr arose from a Cabin Creek psychiatrist, Beth McClellan, who was using Fitbits to monitor data on patients with depression. Intermed learned about it through a conversation and realized it could be made into something bigger.

Mon Health’s P3 program – Progressing through Postpartum – and the Moodr teams have been working hand-in-hand for a long time to refine it, and they formally announced their collaboration at the end of August, said Jennifer Bender, P3’s perinatal nurse navigator.

Moodr is a proactive outreach platform, she said. “It brings together all the positives we’ve been able to develop with the P3 program.” To the patient, it looks just like a text message. But on the clinician side, “we have everything at our fingertips that we need to do the outreach that’s personal to the patient.”

The outreach begins during pregnancy – with Laura McDonald, P3’s perinatal social worker – if the moms score high on an EPDS (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale), a screening tool for depression, anxiety and mood disorders in pregnant and post-partum women, Bender said.

Then, where Bender takes over, they reach out to every mom who delivers at Mon Health within four days to give them the support to continue their postpartum journey, she said. P3 reaches out three times in the first month and again at three months. The moms can reach out to P3 anytime up to a year, and she’s interacted with some past that mark.

McDonald reaches out to moms who score high on the EPDS in pregnancy, she said. Mon Health has implemented universal EPDS screenings at new OB visits, at 28 weeks gestation, delivery and six weeks postpartum.

The aim is early intervention to mitigate some of the symptoms tied to hormone changes that can affect mood and lead to depression: poor sleep, poor appetite, feeling overwhelmed, and sometimes too much eating or sleeping. When needed, P3 can offer care coordination connected to therapy, psychiatry, and appropriate medications.

What exactly does Moodr do? Bender said it allows them to bring all the information they need together in one place whereas, without it, information was scattered among three places. It simplifies an otherwise complicated process to get all the needed patient information so they can be personal with the patient.

“Moodr came alongside us and saw the work that we were doing and pretty much built the platform for our needs,” she said. It’s a secure outreach platform, with demographic information, so it’s not an impersonal auto-text. “Our patients really, really appreciate the support.”

But do the moms respond to the contact? Bender said the Moodr reply rate is 89% to 91% across the 3 ½ years Moodr has been in operation. And there is lots of data to backup that texting is beneficial and helpful. It allows a mom to reply when she wants to reply. “Phone calls are very anxiety producing for a lot of people, especially today’s young moms, and they just don’t answer the phone.”

Jackie Lytton with the Moodr team for marketing, sales and product development described what’s next. Mon Health is the first system they’re working with and the goal now to is to reach out to more hospital systems. So far, they’ve had good reception, and the M&S tech team can customize it to the system’s or private practice’s particular needs.

While Moodr is a business, Mon Health does not charge for the P3 services, McDonald said. It’s charitably funded. But they understand that a big component of Moodr’s success is finding a way to make it sustainable – such as insurance reimbursement so it’s not a patient burden. They’re working on that.

Bender said, “Mon Health has taken this on as an organization because they know that this mission of supporting families with mental health is so important.” That support then supports the community and the community’s mental health at the highest level.

Lytton said, “It’s not about making money, it’s about saving lives. … It impacts so many families. … That is the goal, to get this spread to become the gold standard across all hospital systems.”

Another next step for Moodr, they said, is developing wearable technology like a Fitbit, if the patient would wish to use that.

“We are actively talking with other facilities about implementing Moodr,” Bender said. “We do hope this becomes the gold standard in maternal mental health, in perinatal care.” American College of Obstetricians and Gynelogists best practices in this area have been in place since 2017. But “how to address these concerns is a big problem for a lot of these practices, and we do feel that Moodr is the next step in doing that.”

McDonald emphasized that Moodr wasn’t created by techies in a vacuum, separate from its clinical function. P3 and Moodr have worked closely in developing and tweaking it. “Its very much clinician informed. I just think that that’s something that makes it really valuable. … I’m really excited about where we’re at.

Bender summed up the spirit of P3 and Moodr: “The biggest message is, ‘You’re not alone, this is not your fault, and with help you will be well.’”