Monday, November 24, 2008

Birth Center a great Community Asset in light of National Priorities Partnerships’ Recommendations for Healthcare Reform

Last week, the National Priorities Partnership (Partnership) - a diverse group representing national organizations who receive, pay for, deliver, and evaluate healthcare - released transparency-based recommendations to promote better health and more affordable care by eliminating unscientific and unwarranted interventions including tests, procedures, drugs and hospital stays. Eliminating inappropriate maternity care interventions, specifically targeting cesarean section, is one of the Partnership’s targets for improved healthcare.

Locally, the option to birth at the Birth Center is key to reducing unnecessary cesarean sections, especially among low-risk, first-time moms. Why? Birth centers have documented significantly lower rates of cesarean births. According to the 1989 “National Birth Center Study” published in the New England Journal of Medicine:
few innovations in health services promise lower cost, greater availability and a high degree of satisfaction with a comparable degree of safety […and…] that modern birth centers can identify women who are at low risk for obstetrical complications and can care for them in a way that provides these benefits.
Given the direction of national healthcare policy, growing consumer demand for maximum choice in birth options and what we already know about birth center outcomes, maybe we’ll even see a call for increasing capacity beyond current plans for the new Nurse Midwifery Birth Center!

At any rate, the current climate suggests greater requirements for demonstrating transparency in care. Accreditors, payers and consumers will increasingly make decisions according to how well transparency standards are met. PeaceHealth's commitment to relocate the Birth Center demonstrates an admirable understanding of its vital importance as a well-loved, high-quality and much-needed community resource.

Among the Partnership’s 28 member organizations is the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the leading hospital accreditor. Sacred Heart Medical Center received its Gold Seal of Approval. Given the Join Commission’s participation in developing new standards for transparency in health care, it’s reasonable to assume its own standards for accreditation will reflect these priorities. The new Birth Center will, no doubt, reflect beautifully on RiverBend as it pursues a similar seal of approval.

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