PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA — ProgenyHealth, LLC announced the recent release of its 2023 key trends and insights report. The report entitled, “Rising Risks, Renewed Resolve” identifies critical areas within maternal and infant health to watch in the year ahead, for health plans, hospitals, and healthcare providers.
Pregnancy and childbirth are an increasingly perilous journey for American women and infants. The United States’ maternal mortality rate, which has been inching upward over the past two decades, spiked dramatically in recent years— and is now three times the rate of most other high-income countries. The number of preterm births hit a 15-year high in 2022, with more than 1 in 102 babies delivered at least three weeks early. Rates of pregnancy complications, childbirth complications, and NICU stays—along with the healthcare utilization and spend associated with such events—follow similarly alarming trends.
“The rising risks that dominate the maternal and infant health landscape are tied to an intricate mix of factors: ranging from political and legal shifts to economic pressures to healthcare workforce shortages, systemic bias contributing to mistrust among communities of color, and unhealthy lifestyle habits exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Linda Genen, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Progeny Health.
In this climate of rapid change, ProgenyHealth continues to explore and report on major trends impacting the maternal and infant health landscape – and what rising risks mean for patients, providers, and payers.
Key findings and predictions of the 2023 trends report include:
Increased Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) Tracking. It is predicted that increased collecting of SDoH data will offer greater insight into non-clinical factors that impact specific patient populations and further assist healthcare providers in improving access and coordination of care. While a great first step, there is significant work yet to be done as 60% of providers say they lack resources to properly address SDoH needs of patients. Increased investment in community resources, patient screening and physician financial incentives are needed.
Maternal Health Care Access Challenges. Despite recent attention and investments, maternal health access challenges will persist. Driven by new legislation challenges, increasing care costs, and widening maternal care deserts access to much needed preventative care will be difficult for many, particularly in rural areas. It has been found that 50% of women in rural communities must travel more than 30 minutes for obstetric appointments. Longer travel times are closely associated with a higher risk of infant death and pregnancy complications.
Rising Pregnancy Risk Factors. Rates of certain pregnancy risk factors (such as Preeclampsia and Gestational Diabetes) have been inching upward for years, due in part to shifts in many Americans’ lifestyle habits, increasing maternal age, and a greater prevalence in preexisting chronic conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated and amplified those rising risks in ways that researchers are still working to fully understand. While the intensity of the pandemic may have receded, its influence on pregnancy risk factors is just now coming into focus.
High-Tech Meets High-Touch Care. Telehealth was a vital tool during pandemic-related lockdowns. Fast-forward three years, and telehealth seems here to stay. But predictions about high-tech offerings replacing in-person appointments entirely have not borne out. Instead, high-tech care and high-touch care are increasingly operating in symbiosis, with many healthcare organizations incorporating both into a more holistic and comprehensive ecosystem of maternal and infant health. Now that telehealth is a choice, not a must, innovative approaches are emerging that weave virtual care into the in-person care experience, promising to not only address the supply and demand imbalance but also reduce barriers to access.
Maternal Mental Health Crisis. Mental health conditions sky-rocketed during the pandemic, but the surge has been even stronger among perinatal individuals. The risks are particularly acute for women of color. Studies show that Black women experience an even higher prevalence of maternal mental health conditions. The country’s current maternal mental health crisis comes at a real cost. Annual delivery hospitalizations are $102 million more, in total, for Americans with perinatal mental health conditions compared with those without a mental health condition.
“Since our company’s founding more than 20 years ago, our board-certified physicians, nurses, social workers and other team members have collaborated with health plans across the country to continually improve maternal and infant outcomes and save lives,” said Susan Torroella, CEO, ProgenyHealth. “We will continue to take a leading role in assisting mothers in having healthier full-term pregnancies and navigating unavoidable complex NICU and postpartum issues by focusing on SDoH disparities, interactive technology, and supportive care management from a team of medical experts. The actions we all take today will have a substantial impact on the future.”
To download the full key trends and insight report, or to learn more about what is being done to address the challenges women, infants and families will face in the year ahead, visit the ProgenyHealth knowledge center or ProgenyHealth.com.
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