In its second year, the 2024 Future of Maternal Care Summit (FOMC) brought together leaders, partners, and providers of maternal care from across the country, hosting panels and facilitating conversations around the challenges facing birthing people in the U.S.
With the competing commitments and silos that often separate maternal health stakeholders, FOMC offered a valuable opportunity for attendees to connect and dialogue about their common interest — making the U.S. a safer place for pregnant and postpartum people.
Discussions successfully highlighted the urgency of the issues, and the inadequacies of maternal healthcare in the U.S. However, less was said about outcomes and solutions, a discouraging reality considering the increased national attention around maternal mortality and morbidity.
Here’s what we know:
- Black maternal mortality is nearly 3x the rate of White
- 2.2 million women in 36% of U.S. counties have zero access to maternity care
- 217 maternity wards have closed across the U.S since 2011
- 1 in 5 women report mistreatment while receiving maternity care
These statistics paint a bleak picture of maternal care in the U.S., but more importantly they underscore the urgency of tangible action and outcomes.
Future of Maternal Care trends
Common themes overheard at FOMC included increasing access to non-traditional methods of care such as doulas, integrating community-based solutions and leaders into care models to overcome barriers of trust, and creating culturally-responsive solutions to support diverse needs and backgrounds.
Community-based care is ready for a bigger role in maternal health.
In her opening remarks, founder Kimberly Seals Allers said, “whatever the question, the answer is in the community.” This set the tone for conversations around the importance of community in pregnancy and postpartum, especially with regards to offering culturally-responsive care and building trust with patients. Trust in the healthcare system is one of the primary barriers to care for the underserved, and understanding the needs of the community is essential for providers and payers to establish that trust and drive engagement and deliver better outcomes.
A focus on non-traditional care risked deemphasizing care collaboration
Multiple speakers and panels focused on the role of doulas in maternity care, in some cases at the risk of sidelining OB/GYN providers, where there should have been more emphasis on enabling care collaboration. The promotion of doulas is an important step toward creating a safe environment during labor and delivery, but communication with patients and care advocacy is the responsibility of the whole care team. Because all members of a care team take responsibility for patient outcomes, all members should be included in conversations about improvements for patients.
A missed opportunity to discuss funding and policy measures.
Reimbursement challenges and the merits of value-based care versus fee-for-service were discussed, but the larger issue of policy changes to enable reimbursement and VBC went untouched. Increased awareness of maternal health concerns has spurred funding opportunities for maternal health initiatives at the federal and state levels, but coordinating between stakeholders to capture these opportunities has been a challenge. With so many stakeholders in the room at FOMC, it could have been the perfect forum to consider how best to capitalize on available resources and increased attention on maternal health.
The Future of Maternal Care Summit offered an exciting vision for what could be accomplished when so many stakeholders are in the room together. With the increased spotlight on the urgent needs of maternal populations, and a corresponding push from government agencies to support care models, we need to use opportunities like FOMC to translate that exposure and support into better outcomes for mothers.
In the meantime, learn more about how Babyscripts is working to improve maternal health outcomes, and watch our discussion with Variety Care, an Oklahoma-based FQHC, to understand the challenges and strategies facing maternal care providers.