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Indiana Hopes New Partnership Could Decrease Maternal Deaths

In another step to lower its high maternal death rate, Indiana has joined the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health.

The alliance is a national group of public health organizations and hospitals that works to reduce poor birth outcomes. It analyzes hospital data and provides training materials on addressing health complications during pregnancy.

There are now 23 states submitting hospital data to AIM. Indiana joined mid-January and is expected to begin sharing data this summer.

“The submission of the data is really a tool for [hospitals] to be able to benchmark themselves,” says Kristen Moore, who co-leads the state’s AIM project. "You have to know where you start so that you can set goals for improvement.”

The alliance also provides training materials for hospitals to address issues like high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Using the hospital data, a state can compare its outcomes with other states and on a national level, says Jeanne Mahoney, senior director of AIM.

“We then use that data to drill back to hospitals to show them how they're doing and look at what may be able to be improved by doing more processes or more [training],” she says.

Mahoney says the alliance also connects state health officials, who can discuss successes and struggles. AIM says several states that have used its training materials have seen decreased rates of poor birth outcomes.

AIM’s goal is to have all 50 states submitting data to the alliance within the next five years.

“The more states that are involved, the more states that are sharing back and forth,” Mahoney says. “There’s a lot of sharing that’s going on, and through that things really begin to flourish.”

Indiana has one of the nation’s worst death rates for pregnant women and new mothers. About 41 women in Indiana die per every 100,000 live births, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That rate is even worse for women of color.

Last year, Indiana lawmakers created a statewide maternal mortality review committee. Health care providers must now report when a patient dies from pregnancy or birth complications, and the committee investigates each death.

The committee met for the first time in November and will report back to the legislature this summer.

This story was produced by Side Effects Public Media, a news collaborative covering public health.

Copyright 2019 Side Effects Public Media

Lauren a reporter and editor based at WFYI in Indianapolis. She maintains Side Effects' website, social media accounts (which you can follow on Facebook and Twitter) and newsletter (which you should sign up to get weekly). Lauren graduated from Towson University and moved to Indiana in 2012, where she began her career as a newspaper reporter. She reported on health and social services for the Bloomington Herald-Times. Her work has been recognized by the Indiana chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and Associated Press Media Editors, as well as the Hoosier State Press Association.