Changing maternal health outcomes: Why health systems should layer in virtual patient support with SimpliFed

April 11, 2024

According to the NIH only 60% of caregivers attend their 6 week postpartum visit. There are so many reasons why this imperative appointment is missed: lack of transportation or childcare topping the list. One major factor could be that  2.2 million women of childbearing age live in maternity care deserts–a term coined by the March of Dimes to describe areas with no birthing facilities or obstetrics providers. 

Add overburdened clinicians and significant health system staff shortages, the need to layer in more options for care seems greater than ever before.

Improving your clinics capacity by layering in virtual care 

80% of babies born in the United States start out breastfeeding and yet 6 out of 10 parents stop breastfeeding earlier than they intend.  Many strategies to increase this rate are centered around education and support. But not just once; continued, longitudinal access to care is the only way to move the needle. Most support for families happens in Labor and Delivery units or postpartum with a pediatrician, but studies have shown the need for help starts much earlier and more frequently than that. However, according to a recent Beckers article, OBGYNs and Pediatricians are experiencing high volumes of  job-related burnout. How can overworked providers provide more care, earlier and more often? By collaborating with SimpliFed. 

At SimpliFed we start working with families early. Prenatal education surrounding baby feeding is proven to help with improving breastfeeding rates. This type of clinical care can increase a family's decision to begin breastfeeding for those that can and want to in the first place as they feel prepared with a feeding plan and have gone over early feeding milestones.  They also have a more positive outlook, understanding the infant benefits as well as breastfeeding’s impact on their mental health. SimpliFed works with patients starting during pregnancy to help prepare for those early feeding moments while aligning with each patients OBGYN and home care team. 

After pregnancy, SimpliFed continues to work with patients whenever they need. The first few weeks are significant in establishing a feeding cadence, as families are in their environment with situations and demands that are different from the hospital. Lack of sleep, anxiety over the baby's well-being, and family expectations can be kept at bay in a controlled setting. Once families are home, everything changes. And often help is needed at the most inopportune times, busy lives with young-kid schedules means appointments and support are needed on weekends or evenings and not always during a typical 9-5. As lactation experts, SimpliFed providers can also discuss pumping and even order a breast pump for your patients–a task usually left up to the expectant families. 

Layering in a virtual lactation team such as SimpliFed means in-clinic teams can continue to work at the top of their license knowing their patients are receiving education and care surrounding their feeding goals, at every touch point. As well, families are given options and flexibility. SimpliFed providers can extend a clinical practice by actually extending the hours too, with the ability to meet with families after hours or when the baby is sleeping. 

Virtual care can help improve screening rates and other important HEDIS and quality measures

After giving birth, baby feeding is commonly a number one concern for families. What isn’t top of mind, parents’ physical and mental health. There is a strong correlation between breastfeeding and postpartum depression with studies showing that when caregivers struggle with breastfeeding they have an increased chance of experiencing postpartum depression. In fact, between 17-19% of women experience symptoms of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. SimpliFed providers routinely screen all patients for PPA/PPD via PHQ-9 screening tool. 

Severe conditions like heart disease and stroke (two of the leading causes of maternal mortality) are often developed during pregnancy and can be fatal if not monitored postpartum. Systems can be put in place to support these patients and by partnering with a virtual platform like SimpliFed, telehealth providers can monitor, report and refer back consistently. And it’s not just about the score of a screening, it’s detailed encounters on the day-to-day health of a caregiver. SimpliFed providers also encourage patients to meet milestone appointments like the 6-week postpartum visit enabling health systems to meet important metrics but also increasing the chances of a happy, healthy outcome. 

Another important metric for health systems is well-child visits. SimpliFed providers focus on the caregiver and baby as a complete unit. A parent's health and wellbeing can affect supply or ability to feed, which affects the baby’s ability to thrive. SimpliFed providers discuss formula, layering in complementary foods when the time's right, and so much more. But most importantly they encourage the adoption of routine well-baby visits with pediatricians and are able to share encounters and baby’s health metrics with them. 

Together SimpliFed can work with teams to address key HEDIS measures like:

Wrap-around care to extend your practice 

Layering in virtual care is a great way to increase both breastfeeding and maternal health metrics. Our team is never meant to replace but extend and wrap every patient in total, complete care. Any team can refer their patients to SimpliFed electronically with little to no extra steps. In doing so, we create a two-way communication ensuring we remind patients of upcoming appointments and share pertinent information back to every women’s health and/or pediatric team.

No matter what EHR you use, our IT team will meet with EHR support leads to help set-up SimpliFed in your provider directory, which we have found takes 10-15 minutes total of your team’s time.  We will also work with your operations team to co-design end user ‘how-to’ guides and educational materials to proactively educate clinical support teams about our services.  

Bottom line: SimpliFed works as part of a multidisciplinary team and together with health systems we can change maternal health outcomes. 

If you’re interested in working with SimpliFed please contact us.