New HIMSS Partnership Seeks Tech Solutions for Infant Mortality Crisis

Battle for Our Babies Summit on August 24 at HIMSS Innovation & Conference Center

Health disparities and social determinants is a hot topic of conversation among tech advocates, community and government leaders, academic institutions and healthcare providers. HIMSS Innovation & Conference Center is striving to help these stakeholders transform conversations into practical solutions.

HIMSS is partnering with and The Cleveland Foundation's CTL+ALT+CLE Program to host a Summit on August 24, Battle for Our Babies: Seeking Tech Solutions to Reduce Infant Mortality. The event will gather key stakeholders in a quest for digital health solutions for infant mortality, a national population health crisis.


The Centers for Disease Control reports Ohio as having the nation’s second highest infant mortality rate in the country for black women – primarily due to structural racism, premature births and sleep-related deaths. The infant mortality rate among black mothers in some Cleveland neighborhoods has been compared to developing countries where women lack access to regular prenatal care.


Convening Stakeholders to Define the Problem and Current Efforts

HIMSS Innovation and Conference Center and The Cleveland Foundation's CTL+ALT+CLE Program are collaborating on the Summit agenda with Silas Buchanan, CEO of (OHC). Battle for Our Babies is the name of an OHC initiative using everything from visual art and spoken word, to basketball and culinary arts competitions to educate the community and help reduce infant mortality, especially among people of color. The initiative launched in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County but is designed to quickly scale across the country.


“Black babies die at nearly three times the rate of white babies in Ohio,” said Buchanan. “Working with HIMSS, we can expand the audience to increase awareness and seek practical technology solutions that people can adopt and use to save lives.”


The Battle for Our Babies Summit will feature presentations and conversations with key stakeholders, including leadership from Cleveland area organizations focused on reducing infant mortality. In Cuyahoga County alone, black infants die at 5.9 times the rate of white infants. State and local government leaders will also be invited to share a “state of the union” picture of current statistics and programs.


Next Steps: Developer Challenge with $10K First Prize

After the Summit, attendees at Battle for Our Babies will define the scope of efforts needed to reduce infant mortality rates. They’ll issue a formal challenge to the developer community in September, which is National Infant Mortality Awareness Month.


Over the course of several months, Summit attendees will serve on a virtual selection committee to identify the top tech solutions addressing the causes of high infant mortality, including maternal stress, infant sleep behaviors, premature births, structural racism and lack of support from family or friends.


The HIMSS Innovation & Conference Center will then host Developer Challenge finalists in a pitch competition where industry leaders will select the winning teams. Funded by The Cleveland Foundation's CTL+ALT+CLE Program, winners will be awarded a series of cash prizes, including the top prize of $10,000.


Working with Local Communities to Address Social Determinants via Technology

“It’s exciting to partner with the HIMSS Innovation and Conference Center – and see this globally known convener of stakeholders put energy towards something that disproportionally affects people of color,” said Buchanan. “This is a unique opportunity for HIMSS to help develop tech solutions by working arm-in-arm with community-based organizations.”

John Sharp agrees. He’s HIMSS senior manager of consumer health IT for the Personal Connected Health Alliance. “We’ve heard a lot of talk about social determinants of health. With this Summit, we’re trying to solve a very serious problem with very practical applications. We can bring together the organizations and people directly involved – and then use the HIMSS platform to challenge developers to find technology solutions that can reduce infant mortality in Ohio and around the world.”

More information about the Battle for Our Babies Summit will be coming soon at