Reverse maternal mortality trends: Addressing health-related social needs during prenatal visits

May 8, 2024

Work must be done to reverse maternal mortality trends in Michigan and other states.

In Michigan, maternal mortality rates surpass the national average and recent estimates suggest that 80 percent of maternal deaths in the United States are preventable.

Further, there are stark racial disparities in maternal health, with Black individuals experiencing a 2.6 times higher likelihood of dying from pregnancy-related complications compared to their White counterparts.

To address these disparities obstetricians and gynecologists (ObGyns) play a pivotal role. They are uniquely positioned to identify and address health-related social needs during the prenatal period.

A recent analysis conducted by the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation (CHRT) examined data from its 2021 Michigan Physicians Survey to understand the current landscape of social needs screenings and referrals in obstetric and gynecological care in Michigan.

This brief outlines several strategies to reverse maternal mortality trends by helping ObGyns address health-related social needs:

  1. Engage ObGyns in local care coordination systems, such as Michigan-based regional health collaboratives and state-sponsored social needs programs tailored to women and children.
  2. Enhance the training curriculum for Michigan-based ObGyns to include comprehensive information about the impact of social determinants of health on maternal morbidity and mortality.
  3. Support Michigan’s Community Information Exchange Taskforce in establishing a robust data system that enables ObGyns, specialists, and primary care providers to securely share patient needs with relevant social service organizations.
  4. Explore funding mechanisms to integrate social needs interventions into ObGyn settings, leveraging opportunities such as Medicaid expansions and forging diverse public-private financial partnerships.
  5. Continue to invest in research on screening and referral tools, ensuring they are designed to foster trust between patients and providers and administered in culturally competent, trauma-informed approaches.

Read the brief