Addressing the High Mortality Rate Among Postpartum Women of Color

By |Published On: September 20th, 2023|

While entering motherhood for the first time is often full of joy and excitement, being a new mom also presents many challenges. A healthy pregnancy requires taking care of physical and mental health, which includes keeping up with doctor’s appointments and making healthy lifestyle choices before, during and after pregnancy. Many new moms also need to balance self-care with care of their newborn as well as the rest of their family. Finding balance as a new parent can make it difficult to focus on one’s own personal health while keeping up with numerous other day-to-day responsibilities.  

The Challenges of Postpartum Health in Underserved Populations 

Of particular concern among busy postpartum mothers are hypertension-related complications and mortality. Hypertension is the leading cause of pregnancy-related mortality in the US and is disproportionately prevalent among Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native women. Women of color also inherit higher prevalence of risk factors for hypertension, typically due to social determinants of health including lack of access to adequate health care, minimal healthy food options available, higher cortisol levels due to stress, and fewer safe exercising spaces. Advancements within healthcare and health policies are critical to reduce hypertension and maternal mortality within this population.  

Specifically addressing social determinants of health and these barriers to care within this population can have a profound impact. Utilizing interactive technology, personalized resources and remote patient monitoring, Mom’s Heart Matters (MHM), an interactive digital therapeutic, was designed to reduce the disproportionately high hypertension-related mortality rate among postpartum women of color. MHM engages new mothers in their own self-care by monitoring their blood pressure at home and communicating with their care team to deliver access resources and in-the-moment support as they begin their motherhood journey.  

Utilizing a Science of Engagement For Optimal Health Outcomes 

Using the GoMo Health BehavioralRx science of engagement, the MHM program helps combat health disparities among high-risk new mothers by promoting engagement with their care team to better understand their heart health and postpartum needs. Utilizing a variety of engagement techniques to support moms on their journeys, including Bluetooth®-enabled blood pressure cuffs, the program allows clinicians to monitor participants’ health status in real-time. Going beyond traditional remote patient monitoring programs, the program tracks and responds to borderline and hi-risk readings in the moment, escalating alerts to clinical care teams for intervention and to avoid potential adverse events.  This integrated approach is intended to identify and modify behaviors and address clinical needs, by guiding participants in their personal health care journeys and reinforcing individual progress.  

The success of any remote patient monitoring program is tied to whether patients do what’s needed so that readings are regularly captured and submitted. The MHM program nurtures participants, integrating personalized content and messages with interactive components such as real time, secure chat with care managers and bi-directional surveys. The messaging and resources that mothers receive provide easy-to-access information that support self-care management spanning a wide range of topics, including heart health, positive parenting, breastfeeding health and insurance coverage, and mental health and overall wellbeing. These real-time bi-directional communications ensure active participation from populations that typically experience barriers due to the social determinants of health that often stand in their way.

One Nurses Life-Saving Story
Heather, a nurse at Liberty Regional Medical Center in Georgia where the MHM program launched, shares her experience in the below video of one new mother who participated in the program. Heather had known the participant to struggle in her ability to care for herself in the past, but utilizing this specific method of engagement proved successful in saving her life.

Thanks to the health data received from the mother’s connected blood pressure cuff, Heather was able to intervene and ultimately save her patient’s life. This experience demonstrates the importance of personalized health care programs like MHM that help proactively address potential adverse events, preventing negative health outcomes and engaging patients to take charge of their individual health care journeys, understanding the barriers and how they have previously prevented beneficial engagement.  

The MHM program has had a tremendous impact on improving the health and wellbeing of new mothers by equipping them with the care and resources they need to optimize their health and improve their confidence in caring for themselves and their children. GoMo Health programs advance the standard of care for postpartum women while improving access and promoting positive health outcomes for at-risk new mothers. 

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