UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have secured an $18 million funding award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to improve postpartum health outcomes among primarily low-income Black and Hispanic women.
The funding will be used for a study focused on patients at high risk for postpartum complications during the first six weeks after delivery.
“The study will determine the best way to use technology to improve access to maternal health care and decrease complications after birth,” principal investigator Dr. Elaine Duryea said in a statement.
Virtual education and telehealth visits in postpartum care
During the study, researchers will employ two models of care to determine which one results in earlier detection and treatment of complications among mothers after delivery. One group will receive virtual education and communication via push notifications, while the other will have regular telehealth visits.
Duryea—an assistant professor of obstetrics and oynecology and medical director of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Clinic at Parkland Health—will work with principal investigator Dr. David B. Nelson—an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, division chief of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at UT Southwestern, and medical director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Parkland Health—to build on knowledge from existing UT Southwestern and Parkland programs that aim to reduce high mortality rates among new mothers in southern Dallas County.
The study targets patients at high risk for postpartum complications during the first six weeks after delivery, and it will include patients at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas and Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, two of the busiest delivery hospitals in the U.S., UT Southwestern said.
Together, the hospitals perform nearly 14,000 deliveries per year, and a majority of their patients either have no health insurance or rely on Medicaid for healthcare coverage.
Addressing daily dilemmas
“The concept and design of this study were inspired by the treatment dilemmas that clinical providers at UT Southwestern and Parkland Health face on a daily basis,” Dr. Duryea said.
Common postpartum issues involve bleeding, high blood pressure, blood sugar levels, heart problems, wound infections, and mental health issues, UT Southwestern says.
The findings of this study will provide women’s healthcare providers with more guidance and resources to ensure better care in the future.
Dr. Catherine Spong, chair and professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UT Southwestern, expressed her gratitude for the award. “Maternal health is of the utmost importance, and the findings of this study will provide women’s healthcare providers with more guidance and resources to ensure that their patients receive even better care in the future,” she said.
UT Southwestern’s funding award has been granted, but awaits completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff to issue a formal contract. PCORI, an independent nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010, funds research aimed at providing patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with “evidence-based information to make better-informed healthcare decisions.”
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