Group Offers 11 Ways to Improve Maternity Care Quality, Value

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , January 29, 2010

Aiming to improve maternity care quality and value, nonprofit group Childhood Connection released a vision statement and an action plan in Washington this week.

The documents were developed through the group's "Transforming Maternity Care" collaborative, which received input from more than 100 healthcare providers, hospitals, health plans, payers, educators, quality experts, and others during the past several years.

While "a wealth" of high-quality evidence and experiences are "readily available to improve maternity care," they are "not impacting most women and newborns," said Maureen Corry, Childbirth Connection's executive director. The group's vision statement is serving "as a starting point" to provide steps for "broad based maternity care system improvement."

In its blueprint action plan, the group said it believes that current nationally endorsed maternity care performance measures are lacking. In particular, it says that "significant gaps remain for numerous crucial maternity topics" when it comes to the National Quality Forum's 24 endorsed measures that apply to maternity care.

At the same time, it said that the generic Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems' (CAHPS) facility, provider, and health plan surveys "do not adequately address important dimensions of maternity care quality."

Five groups within the initiative developed 11 "blueprints for action" to improve maternity care quality and value. Here is a synopsis of those points:

Performance measurement and leveraging of results. Fill gaps to attain a comprehensive set of high quality national consensus measures to assess processes, outcomes, and value of maternity care, and create and implement a national system for public reporting of maternity care data.

Payment reform to align incentives with quality. Advance efforts toward comprehensive payment reform through a restructured payment model that bundles payment for the full episode of maternity care for women and newborns.

Disparities in access and outcomes of maternity care. Expand access to services that have been shown to improve the quality and outcomes of maternity care for vulnerable populations, and compare effectiveness of interventions to reduce disparities in maternity services and outcomes.

Improved functioning of the liability system. Implement continuous quality improvement and clinical risk management programs to identify, prevent, and mitigate adverse events in maternity care.

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