Vanderbilt University, United Health Foundation and Yale University Launch Group Prenatal Care Pilot in Nashville: Expect With Me

April 16, 2014
  • Pregnant women in Nashville are invited to join an innovative model for receiving their prenatal care that better prepare them for a healthy pregnancy, delivery and motherhood
  • Expect With Me prenatal care is being offered at Vanderbilt Center for Women or NorthCrest Health Center. Because this is also a study, participants receive small incentives for participation
  • Research has shown that group prenatal care improves birth outcomes, and provides valuable social and emotional support for pregnant women and their families

Vanderbilt University, United Health Foundation and Yale University are inviting  pregnant women to participate in a new model of prenatal care delivered in a group and designed to improve mothers' and babies' health and well-being during pregnancy, birth and infancy.  Initial participants are invited to join a study that will evaluate the model and each mother's experience with group prenatal care.

Expect With Me offers prenatal care based on clinical guidelines from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Nurse Midwives. The care is delivered to pregnant women in a group setting, providing valuable social and emotional support in addition to standard prenatal care, education and skills to maximize the health of mothers and their families.

While expecting mothers typically spend 10-20 minutes with their doctors at each visit in traditional prenatal care, Expect With Me features 10 two-hour care sessions during the second and third trimesters, with the first few sessions held one month apart, moving to biweekly care later in the pregnancy. Each care session includes a physical assessment by a health care provider, an evaluation of the mother's and baby's vital signs, and a group education, skills-building and discussion session.

Expect With Me includes a secure web portal and social networking features that enable expectant mothers to stay connected between care sessions and have access to a strong support network. Incentives, gaming and videos will help patients engage, follow care recommendations and promote better health among mothers and babies.

This model of care will provide more than 1,000 women ages 14 and older with medical care from a physician or midwife and educational information on having a healthy pregnancy. Participants also benefit from peer support from other expecting mothers who participate in the group sessions. Expect With Me aims to enroll at least 400 women in the pilot in Nashville.

"Expect With Me – in addition to providing vital, evidence-based medical care for expectant mothers – is designed to help women access reliable information about their pregnancy and benefit from social and emotional support so they are better prepared to take control of their health and the health of their babies," said Kate Rubin, United Health Foundation president. "Our goal in piloting this new prenatal care model is to improve the health of mothers and babies, and to improve perinatal health outcomes and reduce incidences of low birth weight and preterm birth."

Expect With Me is open to all women. The group prenatal care model is aimed at women in their first trimester; however, participants may enroll up to 24 weeks into their pregnancy. Commercial insurance, Medicaid or TennCare will cover Expect With Me as they would any other prenatal care. United Health Foundation is currently launching and studying Expect With Me in Nashville, Detroit, MI. and McAllen, TX.

Yale University created Expect With Me in partnership with Vanderbilt University and United Health Foundation, with additional in-kind support from UnitedHealth Group and the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization.

"Expect With Me values creativity, innovation and a commitment to always doing what is right for expectant moms and their families," said Deborah Wage, MSN,FNP,CNM, Assistant Professor, Director of Group Prenatal Care, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vanderbilt School of Medicine. "Expect With Me is a result of those values – a group care model meeting the needs of women using high-tech, social, web-based tools and the low-tech benefits of support and empowerment from the group. Vanderbilt is proud to be a part of this innovation."

"Our team at Yale is pleased to work with United Health Foundation and our clinical partners to critically evaluate the impact of the pilot," said Jeannette Ickovics, Ph.D., professor, Yale School of Public Health. "Our hope is that Expect With Me will be a model for a nationally scalable method of care that works with community-engaged organizations and health care partners to meet the 'triple aim': better care, better outcomes and reduced cost for prenatal and postpartum care."

Addressing Preterm Birth and Improving Mothers' and Babies' Health
The design and delivery of Expect With Me is based on evidence from two National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded studies that found that prenatal care delivered in a group setting was associated with fewer preterm births, reduced incidence of infants who are small for their gestational age, and shorter neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stays after birth when needed.

Most babies born in the United States thrive; however, according to United Health Foundation's America's Health Rankings®, six out of every 1,000 babies die during their first year of life, due largely to maternal complications during pregnancy, premature birth, birth defects and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 12 percent of all births in the United States are preterm – or prior to 37 weeks gestation – placing babies at risk for complications, illness and death. While race, ethnicity, income and age affect pregnancy-related health outcomes, research shows that quality prenatal care and healthy lifestyle choices among women before, during and following pregnancy can help reduce infant mortality among babies born preterm.

In addition, preterm births are costly, accounting for more than one-third of all U.S. health care spending for infants. According to the Institute of Medicine, preterm births in the United States cost more than $26 billion a year – or $51,000 per infant – which is 10 times higher than the medical costs associated with a baby born at full-term. Adverse pregnancy- and birth-related health outcomes also are significant cost drivers.

Community-based and prevention-focused programs such as Expect With Me that work to improve the emotional, social and clinical well-being of mothers and infants have the potential to reduce health care spending in the United States by billions of dollars per year.

About United Health Foundation
Guided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities. The Foundation also supports activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the wellbeing of communities. Since established by UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than $210 million to improve health and health care. For more information, visit

About Yale
Yale University, a pre-eminent global university founded in New Haven, Connecticut in 1701, consists of three major academic components: Yale College, for undergraduate liberal arts; the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, offering advanced degrees in 73 departments and programs; and the 13 professional schools. In addition, the campus boasts an array of centers and programs, libraries, museums, and research facilities. Yale's mission to create, preserve, and disseminate knowledge is manifest in its world-class faculty and staff, outstanding student body, and dedicated alumni around the world. For over 300 years, Yale has been committed to developing leaders in service to society.

About Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt University is a private, non-sectarian, internationally recognized research university in Nashville, Tenn., with almost 13,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Its 330-acre campus includes four undergraduate and six graduate schools, a respected medical center and the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center. Vanderbilt is ranked 17th among national universities by U.S. News & World Report, and its School of Medicine is ranked 9th in the nation for NIH funding. Vanderbilt University Medical Center is home to the region's only Level I Trauma Center and Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. With more than 3,600 full-time faculty and more than 25,000 staff members, Vanderbilt is the largest private employer in Middle Tennessee and the state's second largest Tennessee-based private employer.

Be the First to Know

Stay up-to-the-minute on the latest headlines from UnitedHealth Group.