According to Leapfrog’s latest maternity care survey of more than 2,000 U.S. hospitals, only 1 in 5 are meeting national standards for lowering the incidence of 3 maternity care interventions—cesarean sections, early elective deliveries and episiotomies. Meeting these national standards means better care and outcomes for patients. It also increases a hospital’s reputation in the community, provides positive data points for expectant mothers researching their choice of hospitals for delivery, and drives down costs for both patients and payers.
Research shows early elective deliveries—performed prior to 39 weeks of gestation and without medical necessity—can result in both short and long term risks to the newborn and mother. An infant born prior to 39 weeks faces a 20% greater risk of significant medical consequences, including problems with breathing, feeding, and regulating body temperature. A baby's lungs, liver and brain go through a crucial period of growth between 37 weeks and 39 weeks of gestation. Early elective deliveries also increase the mother’s risk of postpartum depression, stronger contractions and the need for a cesarean section.
What steps can hospitals take to reduce the frequency of early elective delivery procedures?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ recommendation for the “Avoidance of Nonmedically Indicated Early-Term Deliveries” concludes that educating both patients and healthcare providers on the risk factors involved can reduce scheduled early deliveries performed at the request of expectant mothers.
High levels of health literacy are associated with better patient self-care and outcomes. Digital patient education helps set expectations and provides consistent guidance and reassurance throughout pregnancy to help expectant mothers make informed decisions about their care. The average early elective delivery rate among hospitals that use UbiCare’s patient engagement solution is .96%—well below Leapfrog’s target rate of 5% or less.
Through UbiCare’s patient engagement platform, expectant moms receive weekly educational messages that proactively offer information and support. The messages provide a bridge between the hospital or doctor’s office and a patient’s everyday life, and focus on improving health literacy and self-care.
When hospitals follow practices that help meet the care standards, year-over-year Leapfrog results show that they are able to maintain their success over time. Approximately 90% of hospitals who met the Leapfrog target rate for early elective deliveries in 2017 continued to meet the standard in 2018.
Learn more about how implementing a patient engagement framework can help hospitals impact Leapfrog metrics and other clinical performance measures.