Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

Three New Jersey hospitals recently launched TeamBirth NJ, an evidence based, national model for better provider and patient communication, which is also called “shared decision-making.” TeamBirth NJ will enhance birthing experiences and improve outcomes for people giving birth and their babies, the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (Quality Institute) announced today.

The Quality Institute, in partnership with Ariadne Labs, is leading the initiative in New Jersey. The state Department of Health provided funding and is a TeamBirth NJ partner, ensuring that lessons learned will be shared across the state.

The three hospitals involved in the launch are RWJBarnabas Health’s Monmouth Medical Center; Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center; and Virtua Voorhees Hospital. TeamBirth also launched at Virtua Health’s Midwifery Birth and Wellness Center.

TeamBirth is a structured method to foster better communication between the clinical team and the person giving birth. TeamBirth was developed by Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. TeamBirth was designed around best practices in communication, teamwork, and clinical care. The initiative ensures that people giving birth and the clinicians who are caring for them have shared input and understanding into decisions during labor and delivery.

“At the Quality Institute, we have long worked to improve maternal infant outcomes,” said Linda Schwimmer, President and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. “Bringing TeamBirth to New Jersey advances this critical mission by strengthening communication between providers and patients. We know that patients who are empowered to make decisions about their care that better reflect their personal preferences often experience more favorable outcomes.”

New Jersey Department of Health data show that pregnancy-related deaths in the state, measured per 100,000 live births, have been increasing: from 12.8 (2011–2013) to 15.0 (2014–2016). This trend is especially distressing because three in five pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some deaths, such as those from severe bleeding, high blood pressure, and blood clots, are highly preventable. Additionally, unacceptable racial disparities exist in New Jersey, where Black, Non-Hispanic women had approximately seven times more pregnancy-related deaths, according to data from 2014-2016 (46.9 per 100,000 live births) than White, Non-Hispanic women (6.5 per 100,000 live births).

“All people who give birth deserve to have a safe, dignified experience. TeamBirth is an evidence-based approach to turn this vision into a reality,” said Amber Weiseth, DNP, MSN, RNC-OB, Director of the Delivery Decisions Initiative at Ariadne Labs. “We are excited to collaborate with these three hospitals in New Jersey to ensure that the patient voice is central to all decisions in labor and delivery. We hope to see this model continue to spread to ensure the best possible care experience for every patient, everywhere.”

Both of the participating New Jersey health systems welcomed the initiative and their ability to be early adopters.

“At RWJBarnabas Health, we are committed to ensuring that all families have access to quality, respectful and equitable maternity care. Implementing the TeamBirth model will help ensure families giving birth and the health care teams caring for them are engaging in shared decision making, which is linked to a better patient experience and improved birth outcomes,” said Suzanne Spernal, DNP, APN-BC, RNC-OB, C-ONQS, Vice President of Women’s Services, RWJBarnabas Health. “Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center and Monmouth Medical Center deliver nearly 13,000 babies a year and are excited to collaborate with the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, the New Jersey Department of Health, and Ariadne Labs to launch the TeamBirth model in New Jersey.”

“Virtua Health believes that patient-centered care leads to the best birth experiences,” said Nicole Lamborne, MD, Virtua VP Clinical Operations – Women’s Health. “We have the medical protocols in place to ensure a safe labor, delivery, and post-partum experience. The addition of the TeamBirth NJ communication initiative fostering shared decision-making during the birthing process will only strengthen the relationship between patients and providers and result in the best outcomes for mothers and babies.”

A central component of the TeamBirth model is a shared whiteboard, located in all labor and delivery rooms and serving as an ongoing shared reference for the team to outline care plans and progress for the patient and the baby. The full care team, of which the person giving birth and their support person are an integral part, meets frequently throughout labor and delivery in huddles to make sure all parties are aware of the patient’s preferences, symptoms, and experiences and to set clear expectations.

The TeamBirth model was developed and rigorously tested by Ariadne Labs as part of its Delivery Decisions Initiative, a research and social impact program focused on transforming childbirth care around the world. In one TeamBirth trial, 90 percent of the clinicians said they would recommend TeamBirth and nearly 80 percent of patients said their preferences made a difference in the care they received.

TeamBirth now has been implemented in more than 60 hospitals around the country, collectively involving more than 1,500 clinicians and more than 67,000 mothers and babies.

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