At LifeBridge, Every Birthing Person Has a Bridge to Health 

Katherine Virkstis, ND, Vice President, Clinical Advisory Services

During our Get Well Wednesday on February 7th, we spoke with Dr. Elizabeth Zadzielski, MD, OB/GYN Chair at Sinai Hospital, to discuss the maternal and infant health partnership between Sinai Hospital and Get Well. Sinai Hospital is the largest hospital within the LifeBridge Health System and the third largest teaching hospital in the city of Baltimore. 

The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations. This crisis disproportionately affects Black women, who are three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. Additionally, Black infants experience a 14.1% higher rate of mortality and low birth weight compared to infants of other races. At Get Well, we are excited to partner with Sinai Hospital and LifeBridge Health to address this issue through a unique maternal health outreach program. This innovative initiative combines technology with personalized care to support individuals from enrollment to postpartum. Our Maternal Health Equity solution functions as a comprehensive platform, delivering essential health information and relevant resources in real time. 

Supporting individuals with guidance at each stage of the birthing journey and beyond

Pregnant people who plan to deliver at Sinai Hospital are automatically enrolled into the Get Well Maternal Health Equity Program through batch files. Upon enrollment, they receive a welcome text and choose their preferred language, English or Spanish.

The program runs from the time participants are enrolled in the program–ideally as early in their pregnancy as possible–through 6 weeks postpartum. Communication occurs via SMS text messaging or phone calls, navigating patients to important hospital and community resources at the right moments during and after pregnancy. These resources include health education and advocacy information. The Maternal Health Equity program also offers a secure symptom checking platform. This allows patients with high-risk pregnancies to monitor and alert their care teams if they experience clinically concerning symptoms. All content in the program is evidence based and written at a sixth grade reading level.

Dr. Zadzielski was particularly enthusiastic about the program’s tailored resources and support. “The program is highly customizable,” she explained. “We’ve been able to add resources specific for our patients, such as online breastfeeding classes through a partnership with BabyLiveAdvice and The Family Tree, a local Baltimore organization that provides free postpartum visits to patients.” Dr. Zadzielski stressed the importance of another key element of the program: screening patients for social determinants of health, or SDOH needs, and connecting them to real-time support for issues like food and housing insecurity. “We are creating more of a partnership with our patients. This is becoming a critical safety net for some of our most vulnerable patient populations–one of the most vulnerable zip codes in Baltimore. A lot of life happens in between those prenatal visits and many of the concerns that patients have are related to social determinants of health. These are very important facets of a patient’s life that also impact their health and their birth outcomes. So to be able to provide those critical resources to patients in real time has been a game changer.”

“We are creating more of a partnership with our patients.” 

Combining high tech with high touch

Get Well’s Maternal Health Equity Program combines cutting-edge technology with personalized support. Our team of Get Well Navigators will step in if a patient’s phone number cannot receive texts, or when there are non-clinical needs that are best addressed live. Navigators have helped patients find affordable or no-cost car seats, enroll in local financial support programs to pay utility bills, and more.

When we asked what providers thought about the program, Dr. Zadzielski admitted that when it was first introduced, providers were skeptical. “They worried that it would create more work for them,” she explained. “But in fact, it has been somewhat magical in the sense that the program runs itself and is truly out of the box. Once the patient is enrolled, there is nothing the provider has to do. All my providers know is the very positive data that I share at the monthly business meeting. Once it’s up and running, it just goes. It has been a very gratifying experience–not only for our providers but also for our patients.” 

Promising early findings

Dr. Zadzielski shared data from the first nine months of the program. “We launched the program in January 2023 and opened the program to all of our patients but drilled to patients who are either covered by Medicaid or are self-pay. The most exciting part of this is the patient engagement in their prenatal appointments. There was an 81.5% increase in patient participation.” 

Additionally, the program has demonstrated early promise in improving clinical outcomes. Dr. Zadzielski referenced data from the program compared to data collected during calendar years 2021 and 2022. “There is a trend toward a decrease in deliveries at less than 37 weeks (11.3% vs 17%), as well as very encouraging data regarding baby length of stay (3.8 days vs 6.6 days). We also looked at patients with all insurance types. We saw the same encouraging trends among patients with all insurance types (preterm delivery rate 10% vs 15% and reduction in baby length of stay 3.4 vs 6 days). These are exciting trends that we are continuing to track and we hope to be able to report even more encouraging data as our partnership with Get Well continues.” 

High satisfaction and growing demand from patients

So what do patients think of the platform? “Satisfaction has been through the ceiling. Patients rate the program an average of 8 out of 10, with 74% rating the program 8 or above. We recently had our Patient Family Advisory Committee meet to discuss what we could do to improve our patient experience. I shared an overview of this pilot program with our participants, and they immediately began clamoring for more access to the program. We also discussed this at our most recent business meeting and our private practice physicians. Now that we are seeing early proof of the pilot’s success, we are feeling a lot of momentum from patient advisors and plan to offer this to patients in the private practices as well. We will be presenting this program to the Baltimore City Health Department because we are receiving interest as well from that group.” 

The Get Well Maternal Health Equity Program under Dr. Zadzielski’s guidance represents an exciting step forward in maternal and infant healthcare. By combining technology and personalized care, the program not only shows great promise in improving health outcomes but is also setting a new standard for how we approach and manage maternal health. We are excited to see how this program evolves and the lasting impact it will make on families and communities. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue tracking LifeBridge Health’s journey of transforming maternal and infant care, one bridge at a time. 

Learn more about our Maternal Health Equity program here. Want to attend a future Get Well Wednesday? Register here.