Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative Celebrates 2021 Successes, Discusses Future Priorities

PA Physician General Denise Johnson

On December 15, the Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative (PA PQC) convened for a virtual learning session focused on the PA PQC's 2021 successes and upcoming 2022 initiatives, which will include a focus on substance use. The collaborative, consisting of 60 birth sites and neonatal intensive care units and 14 health plans across the Commonwealth, aims to reduce maternal mortality and improve outcomes for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), maternal Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), maternal depression, severe hypertension, access to long-acting reversible contraception, and racial/ethnic disparities. In total, the PA PQC health care teams led 107 quality improvement initiatives on these priority areas in 2021.

As a result of their quality improvement work in 2021, the PA PQC observed a 55% increase in the percent of sites using a validated screening tool for substance use in pregnancy, a 32% increase in the percent of sites using clinical pathways for maternal OUD such as medications for OUD, a 31% increase in the use of standardized non-pharmacologic protocols for NAS, and a 50% increase in the maternal depression teams stratifying perinatal depression screening and follow-up rates by race to close gaps in racial disparities. In 2021, PA also became the first state to integrate the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health's severe hypertension bundle with the racial/ethnic disparities bundle and the fourth state to receive the Vermont Oxford Network's (VON) State of Excellence in Education and Training for NAS.

A state leadership panel, featuring PA Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jen Smith, PA Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead, PA Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam, and PA Physician General Denise Johnson, MD, focused on the PA PQC's collective statewide impact and 2022 priorities. The speakers thanked the PA PQC health care teams for their work and emphasized how they can continue to address maternal health disparities in 2022. Jewish Healthcare Foundation Chief Policy Officer Robert Ferguson, MPH, recognized that the PA PQC exists due to the support and leadership of the PA Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.

Additional presentations by PA PQC health care teams from Wayne Memorial, Doylestown Health, and UPMC Williamsport focused on improving care for birthing people and newborns affected by opioids and on improving access to immediate postpartum long-acting reversible contraception. A panel from the Philadelphia Early Intervention program and the Penn Medicine Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania reviewed strategies for engaging families in early intervention services. The PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence delivered a keynote presentation on strategies for responding to secondary trauma and burnout.

In regard to the PA PQC's upcoming 2022 initiatives, the Chairs of the PA PQC Work Groups on Maternal Substance Use and Substance Exposed Newborns reviewed the updated set of key interventions and measures for these priority areas. The PA PQC will be engaging birth hospitals and NICUs in the 2022 initiatives during the first quarter of 2022.

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