Team Designs Digital Health Tools for Pregnant Refugees
An intercampus collaboration led by Dr. Gunisha Kaur, an associate professor of anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medicine, has received a National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Catalyst Prize for its project, “Digital Solutions to Reduce Maternal Morbidity and Mortality in Refugee Women.”
The initiative aims to provide digital healthcare tools, including a wearable device and a customized app, to pregnant refugee women at elevated risk for complications. The digital tools will enable early risk stratification and identification of gestational hypertension and preeclampsia, addressing barriers that prevent refugees from accessing in-person healthcare.
The project, which received $50,000 in seed funding, focuses on improving healthcare access, disease diagnosis, and treatment through cutting-edge digital technologies. The wearable device and app combination will offer remote monitoring, predictive machine learning, and biomarkers to facilitate risk stratification and early intervention. The team emphasizes the importance of addressing misconceptions about seeking medical help, ensuring pregnant refugees know they are allowed to access care without legal consequences.
The digital tools leverage the widespread availability of cell phones among refugee populations, providing a valuable opportunity to disseminate healthcare information. The project builds on the team’s previous work with digital technology and aims to generate results within an accelerated 18-month timeline.
“Even with very few other resources, almost all or 90% have a cell phone, which gives us an enormous opportunity to disseminate health care information about pregnancy and prenatal visits, and vaccines,” Dr. Kaur said.
Ultimately, the goal is to enhance maternal healthcare for pregnant refugee women, contributing to safer and less invasive procedures, aligning with the NAM’s vision to reward innovative ideas promoting healthy longevity.