New HHS Initiative Will Reduce Maternal and Infant Health Disparities

January 14, 2022 by Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director

To reduce the disparities affecting maternity health outcomes, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH) launched the Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Data and Analysis Initiative, an $8 million contract with Premier, Inc., the agency announced in December 2021. The initiative is rallying a network of hospitals to deploy evidence-based best practices in maternity care.

Building on HHS’s Improving Maternal Health in America Initiative, the new initiative informs policy and validates evidence-based practice to improve maternal and infant health outcomes, according to OWH, and investigates the data surrounding health disparities in maternal health.

“Pregnancy-related mortality for Black woman and American Indian and Alaska Native women are two to three times higher than for White, Hispanic, and Asian Pacific Islander women. Geographical disparities also exist as pregnant women living in rural America face barriers to maternity care,” OWH
wrote. “By collecting and analyzing maternal health data and identifying evidence-based actions, OWN aims to improve maternal and infant health outcomes and reduce these disparities.”

OWH’s
network of more than 200 hospitals across the United States is dedicated to improving these outcomes and reducing disparities. “Each hospital will contain more than 150 clinical and non-clinical measures that impact health outcomes,” the agency explained. The clinical data (e.g., hypertension, infection, COVID-19) and non-clinical data (e.g., social determinants of health) can inform strategies to provide tailored, patient-centered care.

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