UnitedHealthcare and Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care Focus on Health Equity in Maternal Health Outcomes

August 04, 2021 | 3 min Read
  • Initiative will address racial disparities by providing maternal hypertension and hemorrhage simulation training in 49 hospitals, and testing remote patient monitoring for expectant mothers through Regional One Health

UnitedHealthcare and Nashville-based Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care (TIPQC) today announced a maternal health initiative aimed at improving maternal and infant health outcomes and equity throughout the state. With $280,000 in funding from UnitedHealthcare, the initiative will focus on maternal hypertension and hemorrhage simulation training for hospitals in Tennessee and support remote monitoring capabilities for perinatal patients.

“It is unacceptable that Black women in the U.S. have at least twice the rate of severe maternal morbidity, and are at least three times as likely to die from pregnancy related complications, compared to white women,” said Keith Payet, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee. “We hope this new partnership is an important step toward addressing a leading cause of severe maternal morbidity and helps improve health outcomes in Tennessee.”

Hospitals across the state that will provide train-the-trainer model training for maternal and infant clinical staff by county include those in: Bedford, Blount, Cocke, Cumberland, Davidson, Dickson, Dyer, Greene, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hardin, Henry, Knox, Madison, Maury, Montgomery, Obion, Overton, Putnam, Robertson, Rutherford, Sevier, Shelby, Smith, Sullivan, Sumner, Tipton, Warren, Washington, Weakley, Williamson and Wilson, with additional anticipated.

“Simulation training has proven to be beneficial in improving outcomes of high-risk pregnancy conditions. Standardization of treatment and protocols has been shown to decrease maternal mortality and morbidity in all patients, with the largest improvement in outcomes in women of color," said Dr. Connie Graves, TIPQC statewide project lead. "UnitedHealthcare’s decision to support a statewide simulation effort means that we can improve care for all pregnancies across the state of Tennessee and decrease disparities for both mother and babies.”

Additionally, UnitedHealthcare and Regional One Health will implement remote patient monitoring to determine its ability to improve access to care by activating Babyscripts, a prenatal app and mobile clinical tool that allows OB-GYN to remotely monitor the progress and health of pregnant patients.

“One of the biggest contributors to health inequity in obstetrics, especially in Black women, is lack of access to adequate health care. The pandemic has proven telehealth is a very effective way of providing health care to patients who would otherwise be without means," said Dr. Danielle Tate, OB-GYN, Regional One Health. "Programs like Babyscripts are great resources to aid in providing this type of care through real-time home monitoring and communication using state-of-the-art technology. UnitedHealthcare’s decision to collaborate with Babyscripts speaks volumes to its commitment to ensuring healthy communities and eliminating disparities.”

UnitedHealthcare recognizes that poor maternal health outcomes remain high among women in the U.S., and that Black women and infants share a disproportionate share of adverse outcomes. According to March of Dimes, Tennessee ranks above average in the preterm birth rate, at 11.2% compared to the national average of 10.2%, and the preterm birth rate among Black women is 14.7%. This is 44% higher than the rate among all other women. Additionally, the maternal mortality rate in Tennessee is among the worst in the nation at 26.2 per 100,000 live births. Tennessee also has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, with the CDC reporting 563 infant deaths since 2019. This ranks Tennessee 45th out of the 50 states.

This initiative is one of several that UnitedHealthcare, along with its parent company UnitedHealth Group, is launching to address maternal health outcomes throughout the United States. Recent initiatives include more than $5 million in recent philanthropic grants to support maternal health, and $2.85 million in support to March of Dimes for a public-private partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services that aims to reduce the Black-white disparity gap and improve maternal health outcomes. Earlier this year, UnitedHealthcare also announced more than $276,000 in maternal health grants to six community organizations in Tennessee. These grants provided support to programs addressing maternal health outcomes, reducing disparities, and expanding access to care.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.3 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @UHC on Twitter.

About TIPQC

The Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care (TIPQC) is the state’s perinatal quality collaborative. The goal of TIPQC is to improve health outcomes for mothers and infants in Tennessee by engaging key stakeholders in data-driven performance improvement initiatives. TIPQC's membership, which numbers over 2000, includes neonatologists, obstetricians, nurses, hospital administrators, families, insurers, business leaders, and community advocacy groups from Johnson City to Memphis. If you would like more information about TIPQC, please visit our website at www.TIPQC.org where you will learn about our efforts to improve outcomes of pregnancy and the health of Tennessee's youngest citizens.

Understanding Tennessee is particularly impacted by this public health crisis, this work will support TIPQC in dissemination of their initiatives to improve the care system and ensure all women – regardless of race and/or ethnicity – receive safe and equitable care during, and after pregnancy

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