Population and Public Health

HIMSS Supports Maternal Health Through Digital Transformation

Doctor checking pregnant woman with stethoscope

HIMSS and its communities are dedicated to clinical, technical, financial and ethical digital health solutions to decrease maternal mortality and address maternal health issues. 

Digital health solutions and improvements in maternal health reporting, data collection and expanded telehealth and remote patient monitoring are vital to improving maternal health outcomes.  

In the United States, which has high maternal mortality rates compared to similarly wealthy countries,  

HIMSS is influencing public policy at all levels of government to end the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis. 

Dangerous shortages of labor and delivery services in rural areas across the globe threaten maternal health. Lack of access to maternal care affects up to 6.9 million women and almost 500,000 births across the U.S. annually, according to the March of Dimes. That same report shows a year-over-year increase in maternity care deserts. The issue is expected to worsen, with more than 1,100 U.S. counties already considered maternity care deserts. 

Valerie Rogers, senior director, government relations, at HIMSS, leads engagement with state, local and tribal health officials on health information and technology policy development. She supports a nationwide network of advocates addressing state/federal legislation/regulations to positively impact all aspects of health information and technology. 

“States can take action right now to leverage federal resources and employ strategies toward modernizing health systems and employing telehealth solutions that can help thwart the maternal mortality crisis in this country,” Rogers said. “Recent congressional actions consisting of 13 bills, called the Momnibus, offer many opportunities for nonpartisan maternal health policies and funding solutions for states that advance data collection, transparency, research and analysis. Medicaid waiver programs and state innovation efforts that improve interoperability among maternal and child health systems and care coordination platforms are also essential in filling the gaps in maternal care.” 

Dr. Natasha Ramontal, digital health strategist, North America, at HIMSS, said digital health is not the sole solution, but digital remote maternal care tools allow for remote monitoring and offer other virtual services like telehealth. 

“For example, maternal health consultations and treatments can assist in filling gaps in maternal care and to prevent pregnancy complications,” Ramontal said. “These services can augment the in-person care lacking in maternal deserts and allow pregnant women to receive the ongoing care they so greatly need.” 

Dana Castro, senior director of the HIMSS Institute, canvasses geographic adversities that, if digitally reformed, can transform lives for under-represented and marginalized populations.  

“This is not a time to settle for the status quo,” Castro said. “Obstetrics care is fragmented — involving multiple stakeholders and resources over the pregnancy and postnatal periods — and ensuring patient data is transferred quickly, accurately and securely is challenging when systems lack interoperability and care deserts are widening. In this patchwork physical and information environment, there may be grave consequences for patient privacy, safety and quality, especially for Black pregnant mothers.” 

The 2024 HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition, taking place March 11-15 in Orlando, features education sessions on top-of-mind issues, including health equity issues such as access to care, barriers to care delivery, digital literacy, health disparities and inequities and social determinants of health. Explore all that HIMSS24 has to offer and register to attend. 

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