$40-a-month baby health app free for some DC moms

The $40-a-month Pacify app, which gives pregantn women and new mothers 24/7 access to nurses and nutritionists, is free for low-income women in D.C. (Courtesy Pacify)

WASHINGTON — Pacify, a D.C.-based app that gives pregnant women and new mothers 24/7, instant access to nurses, nutritionists and lactation consultants, makes the app free to low-income women in the District.

Since the partnership with the D.C. Department of Health Women, Infants and Children program launched in June 2016, more than 500 D.C. residents who qualify for help through the federally funded Women, Infants and Children program have signed up for access to the service, and have made more than 1,500 video calls to Pacify’s network of board-certified lactation consultants alone.

Subscription to the Pacify app is $40 a month.

The app displays three simple buttons: Nurse, Pediatric Nutritionist and Lactation Consultant. A tap of a button connects the user to experts in each field and the response time — usually a FaceTime-like video conversation — averages 30 seconds or less.

New mothers have lots of questions, and Google can’t replace a real-time conversation with a health care expert, the company says.

If new moms have questions about the consistency of foods, they can press the pediatric nutrition button, Pacify’s Melanie Silverman told WTOP.

“And as things go on, lactation experience changes, a fever may pop up so they can press the nurse line, and it is this kind of beautiful, one-stop for pediatric care,” Silverman said.

Access is unlimited.

The network of experts are paid for their time by Pacify, and it is based on an on-demand Uber model.

“They turn their phones on when they want to work. It is really neat on the provider side, because they may work part-time and want to take some extra hours on weekends, or holidays,” Silverman said.

Silverman acknowledged the $40 a month fee sounds expensive at first blush, but pointed out it is both a time saver — no need to make an appointment, bundle up the baby and pay a visit to a pediatrician’s office — and it quickly addresses less serious medical conditions expectant women, new mothers and their babies experience.

Most interactions occur outside of regular business hours.

Silverman said $40 is actually pretty inexpensive, considering the service the app provides.

“You look at apps that are free or 99 cents, and you look at this and it’s $40 a month, but I want to put this in perspective,” she said. “When a lactation consultant comes into somebody’s home it is $150 to $250 an hour. When you put an app on somebody’s phone for $40 a month for 24/7 care, it’s a bargain.”

The Pacify app is also being offered as an employee benefit by some employers, and Silverman says a lot of people are “baby gifting” it to expecting friends and family members.

Pacify also serves mothers through contracts with Medicaid Managed Care companies, state departments of health and breast pump manufacturers.

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