Why pilot? Lessons from a Nurse-Family Partnership case study

The research team prepares iPads for surveying.

This week we released a case study of our Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) Pay for Success Pilot in South Carolina. This document, produced in collaboration with our partners, Nurse-Family Partnership, Social Finance, the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, highlights the value of incorporating a pilot period into a Pay for Success (PFS) project timeline.

In addition to providing sufficient time for the NFP team to strengthen referral pipelines, ramp up operations, and develop strategies for expansion, the pilot period was critical for the research team to test, refine, and finalize the integration of the randomized study design into NFP’s enrollment process.

Randomization of study participants into treatment and control arms is the linchpin of the evaluation. By comparing the outcomes of the two randomly assigned groups, researchers can obtain an accurate estimate of NFP’s effectiveness. Monitoring the random assignment function throughout the pilot period confirmed the process was working as intended and ensured that staff were successfully implementing procedures in the field. Since the completion of the pilot period, our project team has enrolled over 1,000 first-time moms into the study!

Careful study design and thoughtful execution are critical for generating high-quality, robust estimates of a program’s impact. Read more about our pilot period in Charting the Course: Reflections on the South Carolina Nurse-Family Partnership Pay for Success Pilot.

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