Research shows that delivering a baby before full term (39 to 40 weeks) increases the likelihood he or she will be born with health and developmental problems. Additionally, these medically unnecessary procedures carry a staggering cost to the U.S. healthcare system – about $2.6 billion annually, according to CMS estimates.
In turn, Swedish Covenant Hospital worked with VHA in 2013 to implement a “hard stop” policy to prevent the practice of elective deliveries before 39 weeks unless a medical complication is present. While Swedish Covenant Hospital has sustained a 0-percent EED rate through the first quarter of 2014 (since implementing the “hard stop,” patient requests for EEDs persist).
The effort to reduce Swedish Covenant Hospital’s EED rate is part of VHA’s work as a Hospital Engagement Network (HEN) through the federal Partnership for Patients initiative. HENs across the country are working to reduce patient harm in ten areas, including reducing birth complications by lowering EED rates. Swedish Covenant Hospital is currently one of four pilot sites partnering with the VHA HEN to reduce demand for EEDs.
“Patient safety is our top priority,” said Carol Levi, M.D.
, Swedish Covenant Hospital chairman, department of obstetrics & gynecology
. “By working with VHA and through targeted patient education, our goal is to help expectant parents better understand the safety benefits of full term births and ultimately create a healthier community.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that between 10- to 15-percent of all infants are delivered prior to 39 weeks without a medical reason. EEDs are requested for reasons such as convenience, relief from aches and pains, and a lack of understanding about its health risks. Research shows most women do not know that critical fetal growth and development occurs during the final weeks of gestation leading up to full term, such as the brain growing by one-third in weeks 35 to 39.
“Educating expectant mothers directly and through community partners about the risks associated with preterm births will help women make more informed decisions about their pregnancy,” said Keith Kosel, VHA Inc. vice president and executive director. “There are certain situations where it makes sense to deliver early if either the mother or baby is in danger, but reducing elective early delivery is safer for mom and babies.”
VHA Inc. is a national network of not-for-profit health care organizations working together to improve performance and efficiency in clinical, financial and operational management. Since 1977, when VHA established the first hospital membership organization, the company has applied its knowledge in analytics, contracting, consulting and network development to help members and customers achieve their strategic objectives. In 2012, VHA delivered $1.9 billion in savings and additional value to members. Serving 5,100 health system members and affiliates, VHA represents more than a quarter of the nation’s hospitals. VHA also serves more than 118,000 non-acute health care customers enterprise-wide. VHA is based in Irving, Texas, and has 13 regional offices across the U.S. VHA, together with UHC, owns Novation, a supply chain company, and aptitudeTM , the health care industry’s first online direct contracting market. VHA also owns Provista, a supply chain company serving the non-acute market as well as hospitality, education and corporate markets. For more information, visit www.vha.com and follow us on Twitter (@VHAInc).