Honor Mothers by Improving Maternal Health Care


(BPT) - On Mother’s Day, we celebrate moms across the U.S., and their journey to and through motherhood that can be beautiful, messy, and sometimes overwhelming. From gathering information about their care to scheduling appointments, and making decisions about their health and nutrition, moms have a complex journey to navigate — and this journey isn’t the same for everyone. The good news is that there are opportunities to help improve the experience and health outcomes for all.

Recognizing the need for innovative ways to improve maternal health, the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions researched how digital tools, like apps, patient portals, and health care websites, could improve the maternity journey by addressing health care disparities and improving access to care for all birthing persons.

Deloitte found that digital tools could boost maternal health empowerment, with nearly three out of four respondents using digital tools to manage specific health needs. Through digital tools, moms and families can be empowered with data, gain access to culturally informed care, and amplify community voices for greater transparency and accountability.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than White women. Deloitte’s research found that Black, mixed-race, and Hispanic respondents were twice as likely as White respondents to say that digital tools for maternal health did not meet their personal needs or align with their cultural backgrounds. Deloitte’s report included interviews with experts that suggest digital tools and resources appear to lack diversity in their design and may not have been designed with inclusivity and user experience in mind, which is critical to tool adoption and impact. Yet, across all races, Deloitte found that more than four out of five respondents are willing to be involved all throughout the development process for tools.

“Our research suggests that the use of digital tools has the potential to address gaps in access to care and empower moms to manage their health, which is critically important for improving maternal health outcomes in the U.S.,” said Kulleni Gebreyes, M.D., Deloitte U.S. Consulting Life Sciences and health care leader and U.S. chief health equity officer. “When we surveyed expectant mothers about their experiences with digital tools, we learned that these tools aren’t necessarily designed with all moms in mind.”

According to the Deloitte report, this could mean providing the information in different languages for comprehension, showing what conditions or risk factors might look like on different skin tones, or accounting for cultural stigmas related to certain topics like mental health. Designing health apps that are free from bias is essential to ensure everyone has access to the tools they need to improve their health.

Moms Know Best: 5 Ways to Improve Maternal Health

When it comes to making changes to improve maternal and children’s health, moms say it’s important for clinicians to listen and to understand their lived experience and develop tools with their unique needs in mind:

  • Making Tools Affordable: Nearly half of moms surveyed said reducing the cost of these tools is crucial. Technology companies are working on making apps more affordable and accessible for all moms.
  • Simplifying Your Choices: With so many apps and websites available, moms reported feeling overwhelmed. Resources are being developed to help moms choose the tools that best fit their needs. Imagine a central hub with clear reviews and recommendations of resources from other moms.
  • Information Made Easy: Nearly one in three moms surveyed felt stressed by the sheer amount of information available. Digital tools are being designed to be user-friendly and present information in a way that’s easy to understand and navigate. Think bite-sized chunks, clear visuals, and multiple language options.
  • Seamless Connections: A quarter of moms reported difficulty using different tools because they don’t “talk” to each other. The future is looking bright: Tech companies are developing ways for these tools to work together seamlessly, sharing data with your doctor for a more comprehensive picture of your health.
  • Listen to Moms: One in three moms surveyed said that they felt their health care teams did not frequently listen to their needs, believe what they were saying, integrate their preferences into their care plan, or treat them fairly and justly. Health care providers should understand people’s unique experiences and create care teams with shared cultural similarities or lived experiences, particularly for patients from historically marginalized backgrounds.

Health care executives and clinicians need to have bold action on addressing maternal health inequities. One preventable death is one too many. Executives can look at their data, identify gaps and prioritize improvement strategies.

This Mother’s Day let’s celebrate not just a single journey but the journeys of all moms with dignity, the best care possible, and with empathy. Together, we can help build a future where every mother feels empowered, supported, and heard on the path to parenthood. Healthy mothers can contribute to healthy communities, and that’s a reason to celebrate!

To learn more about Deloitte’s findings, read the full report: “Maternal health inequities persist. Can digital tools be part of the solutions?

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