What do New York-Presbyterian, Henry Ford Health System of Detroit, and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles all have in common?
They’re all focused on innovating to improve maternal health … and they’re all winners of the second-annual AHA Innovation Challenge. At last month’s AHA Leadership Summit, we recognized these leaders — and other standout hospitals and health systems — for their efforts to address challenges and opportunities our field and patients face.
One challenge is the rise in maternal mortality in recent years: up to 18.0 deaths per 100,000 live births. Among African American mothers, the rate is 40.0 deaths per 100,000 live births … an extremely concerning situation. One death is one too many … and we must strive to achieve a zero tolerance for maternal death.
Addressing this requires innovative ideas and practices, particularly because effectively tackling this problem involves dealing with the social determinants of health, and the services and care necessary for mothers both before and after delivery in our hospitals. I’m pleased to say that this year … we had plenty of ideas on how to address these challenges.
New York-Presbyterian took home the top prize for using telehealth to link screening for social determinants of health with screening for early childhood development in order to increase patient engagement and assess vulnerabilities at home.
Henry Ford Health System earned special recognition as well for an emergency department intervention that combines online health technology and community health workers to provide vulnerable, reproductive-aged women with point-of-care planning services during non-emergency ED visits.
We also saluted Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for its app, “Baby Steps LA,” which helps new mothers manage their postnatal care by providing medical information, task lists, a support group and informational wellness resources for the whole family.
Our honorees come from very different areas but all share the same goal: improving the health of moms and babies.
The AHA shares this goal, too, and has been aggressively moving forward with our Better Health for Mothers and Babies initiative to advance maternal and neonatal health across the continuum of care.
We’ve released a number of resources — all available at www.aha.org/bhmb — to help your hospital or health system eliminate maternal mortality. This includes toolkits developed through best-practice evidence, resources for working with new and expectant mothers, case studies showing hospital-based clinicians and community stakeholders working together to improve racial disparities in maternal health, and more. We hope you will get involved with this initiative and share your leading practices as well.
The takeaway: Whether it’s maternal health, rural health, field transformation — or any other health care issue — America’s hospitals and health systems are leaders. Innovation is in the DNA of every health care leader across America … and the 2019 Innovation Challenge winners are proof. By sharing best practices and working together, we will advance health for moms and babies.

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