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Improving Access to Care for Rural Maternity Patients

Posted by Noteworth on May 28, 2021 2:58:06 PM

When it comes to maternal care, women living in rural areas in the U.S. face higher mortality and morbidity rates than those living in urban areas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that rural areas had a pregnancy-related mortality ratio of 29.4 per 100,000 live births, versus 18.2 in urban areas in 2015. Another study cited that rural residents had a nine percent greater probability of severe maternal morbidity and mortality compared with urban residents.  

Several factors influence these discrepancies, including a shortage of obstetrics providers and advanced practitioners in rural areas; a lack of care facilities; frequency and amount of required visits before, during, and after pregnancy; and transportation issues for patients. In fact, distance traveled to receive needed health care services is particularly impactful, with research showing that women who had to travel more than 30 miles to a labor and delivery location had fewer prenatal visits, as well as newborns with lower birth weights and gestational age. 

Government agencies are focused on addressing these disparities, including Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) which states, “...rising maternal mortality rates and the disproportionate effect they have on Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native women is of great concern. Rural maternal health care is.. [a] priority and...CMS has been focused on improving rural maternal health outcomes”

To that end, the Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA) will award $3 million in supplemental funds to support health centers participating in the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) program. The 4-year initiative is aimed at improving maternal obstetrics care in rural communities and will kick-off in Fall 2021.

Health centers participating in the RMOMS program will use funds to focus efforts on four core areas: 

  • Risk appropriate care approaches in rural regions
  • Continuum of care through network approaches
  • Financial sustainability
  • Telehealth and specialty care

The program allows awardees to test care models in order to address unmet needs for their target population, which could include populations who have historically suffered from poorer health outcomes, health disparities and other inequities.

Noteworth provides health centers participating in RMOMS — as well as any other care organizations focused on maternal health —a comprehensive set of virtual tools that help close care gaps by tackling several social determinants of health for rural maternal health populations.

Noteworth offers a seamless journey for expectant mothers by addressing specific maternal health needs through programs like Integrated Pregnancy Management, Health and Wellness, and Gestational Diabetes, resulting in complication avoidance, optimized transitions of care, and increased patient engagement. 

Specifically, Noteworth supports an ideal maternal health system via tools that:

  • Deliver more continuous care: Establish or expand continuous monitoring with remote patient monitoring devices; conduct virtual visits via telehealth tools like video, asynchronous messaging, and e-consults.

  • Improve care coordination: Enhance care management of higher-risk expectant mothers living in geographically isolated areas through streamlined communication and information exchange between providers across the care team.

  • Incorporate behavioral health management: Conduct behavioral health screenings for postpartum depression, anxiety, and more; connect patients with community health programs and services such as lactation consulting or birthing classes.  

  • Improve access to care: Deliver virtual care to patients where they are, especially in areas with provider shortages or a lack of clinics and facilities; improve access to a range of provider options including primary care, specialists, nurse practitioners, midwives and more.

  • Deliver patient-centered care: Keep the entire care team informed of the patient’s birth plan, including any preferences or cultural values; deliver patient education and health and wellness programming that align with the patient’s individual needs. 

Contact us today to learn how Noteworth can help your organization reach your rural maternity and obstetric patients.

Noteworth modernizes healthcare delivery by driving continuous engagement of patients and providers across ambulatory, post-acute, and transitional care journeys. With a single, modular platform that can be used alone or easily integrated with any EMR, Noteworth eliminates the need for disparate point solutions to address all aspects of virtual care, including condition management, remote patient monitoring, home health, behavioral health, telemedicine, and patient engagement. The platform's unprecedented healthcare data collection and assessment drives proactive interventions that enable health systems to improve patient outcomes, reduce care costs, and streamline workflows. Watch this 2-minute video to learn more.  

Topics: social determinants of health, remote patient monitoring, HRSA, access to care, rural healthcare, maternal health