Child and maternal health – the case for standardizing education

July 5, 2022
July 5, 2022

Maternal health statistics for the United States remain shockingly poor, particularly when compared with the rest of the world. To make matters worse, the rate in the U.S. continues to rise even as the global maternal morbidity ratio has been declining.

In addition, there are quite a few disparities in the U.S. maternal child health data that make addressing the issue even more complex. There are significant racial, ethnic, geographic and age disparities that can further complicate efforts to improve results. And lastly, there is an economic penalty for poor performance in the area of maternal and child health – 74% of obstetrical claims are related to a lack of clinical judgement.

Much has been written about the appalling statistics surrounding maternal health. National, state, and local governments, regulators, healthcare organizations and providers all have efforts underway to address these issues, but is there something much more fundamental that healthcare leaders should be considering?

Start at the Beginning

The efforts that are currently underway will hopefully have an impact on the delivery of safe and effective maternal and child health care in the U.S., but is there a more logical way to address the problem? Does it make sense to start at the beginning with a systematic approach to education for maternal and child health providers? The pandemic has exacerbated issues around nurse preparedness as nursing schools scrambled to graduate desperately-needed nurses. However, there have always been some disparities in the preparedness of new nurse graduates and their education has typically been more focused on adult health issues than those of infants and children. Typically, uneven levels of preparedness have been addressed with preceptors and mentors and additional education, but even that has been somewhat uneven as educational programs, preceptors and mentors may also be subject to the kind of variations in education that result in meaningful and perhaps dangerous gaps in knowledge.

Ideally, nurses have an educational foundation in maternal and child health that is the same from one nursing program to the next, but we are currently nowhere near that ideal. So, what should healthcare leaders do to help prepare nurses and to ensure that their teams are prepared to deliver the kind of safe and effective care that can have a real impact on improving current maternal child health statistics in the U.S?

Solutions That Save Lives and Money

Standardizing education on maternal child health with an evidence-based approach is a strong first step in any strategy to improve outcomes in this patient population. HealthStream’s maternal care education programs will prepare your nurses and OB providers with case-based training and ongoing education help blaze a new path towards a focus on improving preventable outcomes.

Most importantly, this is a proven solution. Clients who adopted HealthStream’s Quality OB solution experienced a 22% decrease in negative events from the national average. In addition, numerous clients have reached the threshold of zero harm events after switching to this program.

HealthStream’s Child and Maternal Health solution is a comprehensive one and includes content that addresses:

  • Neonatal education: The Neonatal Orientation and Education Program (NOEP) developed by the Association of Women’s Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses’ (AWHONN) offers evidence-based education that can reduce risk, improve outcomes and help your team to provide consistent, high-quality care.
  • Perinatal education: AWHONN’s Perinatal Orientation and Education Program (POEP) can help orient your perinatal staff and provide ongoing training on safe, effective perinatal care.
  • Maternal-fetal obstetrical triage education: This portion of the education introduces AWHONN’s acuity classification index that educates nurses on how to prioritize a woman’s urgency for further evaluation.
  • Treating critically-ill children: The Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) has also contributed content to help nurses bridge educational gaps in knowledge about how to treat critically-ill children and neonates. Essentials of Pediatric Critical Care Orientation (EPCCO), Essentials of Neonatal Critical Care Orientation (ENCCO) and Essentials of Pediatric Acute Care Orientation (EPACO) equip nurses with standardized, regularly-updated education on these topics.
  • Breastfeeding and lactation education: The Jones and Bartlett breastfeeding program helps educate staff on what is necessary to achieve “baby-friendly” status with lactation education.
  • Newborn care – The S.T.A.B.L.E Program targets the first month of life and helps providers identify both normal and abnormal characteristics.
  • Obstetrical education: Developed in partnership with St. Luke’s, the Advanced Life Support OB (ALS OB) program and HealthStream’s Quality OB program both focus on understanding how, when, and why to modify the standard algorithms when caring for a pregnant or newly-delivered patient.

HealthStream is dedicated to providing standardized education that can transform maternal child health care, by supporting nurses who can practice in confidence knowing that they have been equipped with the best clinical information specific to this patient population.