The baby bridge program: A sustainable program that can improve therapy service delivery for preterm infants following NICU discharge

Roberta Pineda, Elizabeth Heiny, Patricia Nellis, Joan Smith, Jaqueline M. McGrath, Margaux Collins, Abigail Barker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective The aim of this project was to determine revenues and costs over time to assess the sustainability of the Baby Bridge program. Methods The Baby Bridge program was developed to promote timely, consistent and high quality early therapy services for high-risk infants following neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) discharge. Key features of the Baby Bridge program were defined as: 1) having the therapist establish rapport with the family while in the NICU, 2) scheduling the first home visit within one week of discharge and continuing weekly visits until other services commence, 3) conducting comprehensive assessments to inform targeted interventions by a skilled, single provider, and 4) using a comprehensive therapeutic approach while collaborating with the NICU medical team and community therapy providers. The Baby Bridge program was implemented with infants hospitalized in an urban Level IV NICU from January 2016 to January 2018. The number of infants enrolled increased gradually over the first several months to reach the case-load capacity associated with one full-Time therapist by mid-2017. Costs of the therapists delivering Baby Bridge services, travel, and equipment were tracked and compared with claim records of participants. The operational cost of Baby Bridge programming at capacity was estimated based on the completed and anticipated claims and reimbursement of therapy services as a means to inform possible scale-ups of the program. Results In 2016, the first year of programming, the Baby Bridge program experienced a loss of 26,460, with revenue to the program totaling 11,138 and expenses totaling 37,598. In 2017, the Baby Bridge program experienced a net positive income of 2,969, with revenues to the program totaling 53,989 and expenses totaling 51,020. By Spring 2017, 16 months after initiating Baby Bridge programming, program revenue began to exceed cost. It is projected that cumulative revenue would have exceeded cumulative costs by January 2019, 3 years following implementation. Net annual program income, once scaled up to capacity, would be approximately 16,308. Discussion There were initial losses during phase-in of Baby Bridge programming associated with operating far below capacity, yet the program achieved sustainability within 16 months of implementation. These costs related to implementation do not consider the potential cost reduction due to mitigated health burden for the community and families, particularly due to earlier receipt of therapy services, which is an important area for further inquiry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0233411
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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