More Than 200 Hospitals Take Part In Nationwide Project To Reduce Maternal Mortality

The hospitals are participating in a federal effort to collect and study the health data of women and babies. The hope is to reduce disparities in outcomes among racial and ethnic groups.

More than 200 hospitals are collaborating on an effort aimed at improving the health of mothers and their babies.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health announced the collaboration Monday, Nov. 8. The hospitals are participating in the HHS Perinatal Improvement Collaborative. The federal government has contracted with Premier, Inc. to establish the network.

The goal is to reduce disparities in the health of mothers and their babies and to lower the risk of those most vulnerable to poor health outcomes, the health department said in a news release.

The network will examine the health data of both newborns and their mothers to gauge what’s leading to preventable health risks and deaths. Hospitals will also study whether maternal morbidity and health problems suggest long-term health challenges for their children.

Hospitals in all 50 states are participating in the collaborative, the health department said. The federal government hopes the effort sheds light on differences in care among vulnerable groups and in geographic areas. Each hospital is going to collect more than 150 measures that could affect the health of the mothers and their babies, including hypertension and COVID-19. (Here’s the list of participating hospitals.)

The project is aimed at reducing disparities in health care outcomes that often fall along racial and ethnic groups.

“We’re very excited the HHS Perinatal Improvement Collaborative allows us to obtain up-to-date maternal morbidity and mortality data that will inform program planning and policy development across HHS,” Dorothy Fink, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women’s Health and Director, Office on Women’s Health, said in a statement.

In 2019, 754 women died of maternal causes in the United States, compared to 658 in 2018, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Black women are at significantly higher risk of dying or having health complications due to childbirth, based on federal health data. In 2019, the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women was 2.5 times higher than non-Hispanic white women and 3.5 times the mortality rate for Hispanic women, the CDC reported.

The health and human services department announced last year it had awarded Premier an $8 million contract to set up the network and collect more data on mothers and their babies. At the time, the department noted the higher death rates among some women in minority groups, including American Indian and Alaska Native women. The agency also noted women living in rural areas also lack access to medical care.

An external advisory panel of clinical experts and thought leaders will assist the effort. MoMMA’s Voices, an advocacy group aiming to eliminate maternal mortality, is also part of the collaboration.