AKRON, Ohio: Cleveland Clinic Akron General recently instituted a new model of care designed to improve outcomes for pregnant patients by focusing on communication and teamwork to enhance safety and quality of care.
A major part of the new model, called TeamBirth, involves all members of the care team having “huddles” with patients at regular intervals so that everyone understands their current condition and birth preferences.
Akron General is one of only four hospitals in the United States to pilot TeamBirth as part of the first wave of the March of Dimes and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Maternal HealthCARE initiative. This initiative works to improve maternal health outcomes and advance equity in labor and delivery.
“Pregnant people in the U.S. are experiencing severe complications and dying at higher rates than any other industrialized country and if you are a pregnant Black person, your rates are even higher. The goal of TeamBirth is to address those unacceptable outcomes, to put the patient and their preferences at the center of their birthing experience and to root out the implicit and explicit biases that create inequity in maternal healthcare,” said Jennifer Savitski, M.D., chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Akron General.
To improve communication, TeamBirth uses planning boards in all labor and delivery rooms that list all caregivers who are on the patient’s team. The planning boards highlight the patient’s birth preferences, and outline care plans and progress for the patient and the baby. The care team, including the person giving birth and their support person, meet frequently to make sure everyone is aware of the patient’s preferences and condition, and to set clear expectations.
Akron General spent about six months preparing to adopt this new model, and has been utilizing it since October. Data are being collected to determine how the program impacts birth outcomes and patient and caregiver experience. While it is too soon to draw conclusions on outcomes, anecdotal patient feedback indicates patients appreciate the intentionality of highlighting their preferences and having a structured process to ensure shared decision-making, Dr. Savitski said.
TeamBirth was developed by Ariadne Labsas an evidence-based approach to labor and delivery. Hospitals participating in the Maternal HealthCARE initiative implement improvement measures focused on best practices for patient-centered, respectful and anti-racist care for all, stratifying data by race and ethnicity to create data transparency. Participating hospitals address racial inequities and the disparity gap in outcomes for pregnant Black patients through implementation of expert-recommended key activities, including maternity specific implicit bias training, stratification and analysis of outcomes by race and ethnicity, formation of an anti-racism work group and adoption of the TeamBirth model of care.