VHHA Partners with Health Care Organizations on Five-Part Maternal Health Data Webinar Series

March 4, 2024

Virginia Health Care Organizations Partner on Data-Informed Webinar Series Focused on Improving Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes

Webinar Series will Feature Data Presentations from the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, the Virginia Neonatal Perinatal Collaborative, and Virginia Health Information

RICHMOND, VA – As health care organizations, clinicians, policymakers, and stakeholders the world over work to reduce maternal mortality rates, the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) and several partner organizations are collaborating on a public-facing maternal health webinar series to support those efforts in the Commonwealth.

Maternal mortality occurs when a mother dies during pregnancy, delivery, or shortly following delivery (typically up to 42 days). Maternal deaths can be pregnancy-related or pregnancy-associated. Pregnancy-related deaths are caused by, or aggravated by, pregnancy or pregnancy complications such as dangerously high blood pressure triggering a fatal stroke or heart attack within one year of the end of pregnancy. Pregnancy-associated deaths occur while a woman is pregnant or within one year of the end of pregnancy, irrespective of cause. Infant mortality involves the death of a child that occurs during the first year of life.

The upcoming five-part maternal and infant health webinar series commences in March and continues with monthly installments through July, with each session exploring unique datasets capable of providing insights to the diverse stakeholders working to confront the maternal mortality challenge. With the exception of the first webinar in March, the hourlong webinars in this series will be held on the second Tuesday of the month at noon. Register for the series through this link. The webinar offerings include:

  • A March 5 presentation from VHHA and the Virginia Neonatal Perinatal Collaborative (VNPC) on hospital inpatient and emergency department data;
  • An April 9 presentation from the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) on the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set;
  • A May 14 presentation from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Office of Family Services on navigating state level data to support maternal health;
  • A June 11 presentation from Virginia Health Information (VHI) on the All-Payer Claims Database (APCD) and the Emergency Department Care Coordination (EDCC) program; and
  • A July 9 presentation from the VDH Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on Maternal Mortality Review Team data.

While global maternal mortality rates have declined in the past two decades, they have risen in recent years in the United States and Virginia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. maternal mortality rate in 2021 was 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, an increase over rates of 23.8 in 2020 and 20.1 in 2019.

Similar trends have been documented in Virginia, which captures data on pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated maternal deaths. The Commonwealth’s pregnancy-related mortality rate rose from 12.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019 to 32.4 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2021.Virginia’s pregnancy-associated mortality rate rose from 37.1 in 2018 to 86.6 in 2020, according to a report from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Pronounced maternal mortality disparities exist across racial lines among women of color, particularly African American woman, who experience higher rates of maternal death across the U.S. and in Virginia. Black women experienced pregnancy-associated deaths at significantly higher rates than white women from 2018 to 2020, averaging rates of 89.5 and 53.5, respectively.

“Virginia’s hospitals and health systems are devoted to the mission of improving the health of Virginians through the provision of direct medical care as well as investments in an array of initiatives focused on access to care, population health, health equity, prevention programs, and more,” said VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “Reversing the recent trend of rising maternal mortality rates necessitates collaboration across disciplines between public and private sector partners. It also requires stakeholders to harness the power of data to understand the scope of the maternal mortality challenge. Elected leaders in Virginia have devoted time and resources to addressing this issue, which signifies the seriousness of this public health concern. This forthcoming webinar series represents an important step in the process by bringing together diverse partners and stakeholders for knowledge and data sharing in pursuit of collaborative solutions to reduce maternal mortality rates.”

“During a Maternal Health Roundtable hosted by Governor Glenn Youngkin and Health and Human Resources Secretary John Littel last week, the focus was on steps needed to improve maternal health outcomes in Virginia,” added Virginia State Health Commissioner Dr. Karen Shelton. “We want healthy moms because the best chance for a healthy baby and a strong family starts with a healthy mom. Virginia’s maternal health mortality rates must be improved, and racial disparities must be eliminated. We are excited about this webinar series and the opportunity to work with health care providers, hospitals, and community partners to achieve our goals of making all of Virginia’s moms healthier.”

This webinar series is designed to support and complement action steps that have been undertaken by Virginia in response to rising maternal mortality rates. A state law approved in 2021 established a Task Force on Maternal Health Data and Quality Measures “for the purpose of evaluating maternal health data collection processes to guide policies in the Commonwealth to improve maternal care, quality, and outcomes for all birthing people in the Commonwealth.” This year, legislation is advancing through the Virginia General Assembly to reestablish the Task Force and to strengthen Virginia’s Maternal Mortality Review Team.

About VHHA: The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association is an alliance of 111 hospitals and 26 health delivery systems that develops and advocates for sound health care policy in the Commonwealth. Its mission is to achieve excellence in both health care and health. Its vision is through the power of collaboration to be recognized as a driving force behind making Virginia the healthiest state in the nation. Connect with VHHA through Facebook, X (Twitter) , YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok.