CHAPEL HILL, N.C., May 17, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Today the National Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative (PCHHC), a national public-private partnership of over 70 organizations working to promote preconception wellness and life planning, published their evidence-based preconception wellness measures for health systems to begin benchmarking preconception care in the United States. Titled, "Health System Measures to Advance Preconception Wellness," the full list of recommended clinical measures is online, open-access in Obstetrics & Gynecology and can be found at: http://bit.ly/PCCMeasures.
The PCHHC Clinical Workgroup proposes nine core measures that health systems can assess at the beginning stage of prenatal care to index a woman's preconception wellness. The focus of the nine measures is to quantify the impact of health systems on advancing preconception wellness. Monitoring these measures will allow health providers to establish benchmarks and allow for comparison within and among clinics, health systems, and communities to drive improvements. The Workgroup recommends that health systems adopt these nine preconception wellness measures as a metric to monitor performance with preconception care practice.
Despite ranking first in the world for health care spending, the U.S. ranks 26th in infant mortality, and is the only industrialized country where maternal mortality and severe morbidity are on the rise, especially among minority women. To change this trajectory, it is essential to improve the health status of women prior to pregnancy. Adding to the issue, almost half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended or mistimed. The emerging Zika virus crisis underscores the importance of this care.
"Measurement is critical to better understand and improve services– something that has been missing in preconception care," says Sarah Verbiest, Senior Advisor, PCHHC. "To elevate the importance of preconception wellness, one goal is that these measures will be reported alongside traditional prenatal care quality indicators."
Measuring preconception health care delivery is challenging, given the scope of preconception care and the breadth of domains that impact a woman's preconception wellness (clinical factors, social determinants of health, mental wellness, access to care, etc.). In the paper, PCHHC proposes that this set of metrics will set a starter bar for a more comprehensive approach to women's health and wellness -- particularly given the changes in access to care and coverage of preventive services occurring with the Affordable Care Act.
"The data that will be available based on these nine measures that index health care system performance will allow us to quantify preconception health issues for a community or subset of the population," says Daniel Frayne, MD, co-chair of the PCHHC Clinical Workgroup and assistant residency director of the Mountain Area Health Education Center's Family Medicine Residency Program in Asheville, North Carolina. "If these nine measures can be fully addressed through risk modification, we should be not only have a pulse on issues and trends in women's health but be able to address inefficient system approaches."
The National Initiative, comprised of five workgroups focused on consumers, clinicians, public health, policy and finance, and surveillance and data, is tackling these issues through a multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary, multi-sector approach. The clinical workgroup is working to enable health providers to better understand the benefits of measuring these preconception wellness data points with their flagship resource, www.BeforeandBeyond.org. There is also work underway to launch the first and only national consumer-focused preconception health educational and community-building platform in the U.S., Show Your Love.
About PCHHC The National Preconception Health and Health Care (PCHHC) is a public-private partnership of over 70 organizations focused on improving the health of young women and men and any children they may choose to have. The Initiative is comprised of five workgroups: Consumer, Clinical, Policy & Finance, Surveillance & Data, and Public Health.
PCHHC Initiative's vision is that "all women and men of reproductive age will achieve optimal health and wellness, fostering a healthy life course for them and any children they may have."
PCHHC is coordinated by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Center for Maternal and Infant Health (UNC CMIH) housed with a mission to optimize the health and wellbeing of women and infants by advancing collaborative models of care that span the reproductive continuum. As part of their mission the UNC CMIH team provides leadership at a state, regional and national level across a variety of initiatives including maternal safety, breastfeeding, perinatal regionalization, recurring preterm birth prevention, postpartum wellness, preconception health, and health equity.