by Allison George, MHLIC
At September’s inaugural National Maternal Health Innovation Symposium, MHLIC shared over 20 Spark Session videos. These are a curated collection of brief presentations detailing innovative maternal health programs, policies, or strategies from around the nation. The goal was not only to share examples of creative work by others in maternal health but to “spark” ideas in viewers about how you might do something new or differently in your own work. Over the next several months, we will highlight some of the Spark Sessions on our blog.
Each year, more than 65,000 people in the United States nearly die due to complications during pregnancy or childbirth. The CDC estimates that 60% of the deaths that do occur related to pregnancy could have been prevented. What is going on?
Answering that question requires a lot of data. I didn’t really understand what data or how we use it until I recently watched the Spark Session: “Refinement of the New Jersey Maternal Health Hospital Report Card- Year 2018.” The 14-minute presentation explains the process the NJ Department of Health engaged in to produce its first report card on maternal health hospital pregnancy and birth outcomes, refine that card, and improve it to its current iteration.
The presentation not only outlines the initial metrics reported, but the next steps the NJ Health Department took to engage stakeholders and get feedback on their work. This led to revising certain metrics and adding additional ones, like the number of episiotomies performed. Additionally, they made the data available to the public online and collected information about user opinions in order to improve the accessibility of the data to the public.
By making data transparent, the presenter points out that the state can be held accountable for where improvements need to be made. This data informs policies and quality improvement priorities. And, this kind of data lets us know whether we are making progress and improving.
The New Jersey example is a great case study for other states looking to improve their maternal morbidity rates. And, a really informative report for members of the public who care about our pregnant friends, family, and community-members.
You can watch this Spark Session, and others, recorded for the 2020 National Maternal Health Innovation Symposium here.