Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have been approved for an $18 million funding award from the nonprofit Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to investigate ways to improve postpartum health among primarily low-income Black and Hispanic women.
The study 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; the other will have regular telehealth visits.
"The study will determine the best way to use technology to improve access to maternal health care and decrease complications after birth," said Elaine Duryea, M.D., Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Medical Director of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Clinic at Parkland Health, who will be a Principal Investigator on the study along with David B. Nelson, M.D., 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. Dr. Nelson is also a Dedman Family Scholar in Clinical Care at UTSW and holds the Gillette Professorship of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
In this multicenter trial, UT Southwestern and Emory University 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. Combined, the hospitals handle nearly 14,000 deliveries each year, and most of their patients either have no health insurance or are on Medicaid.
The study will target patients at high risk for postpartum complications during the first six weeks after delivery. The most common issues involve bleeding, high blood pressure, blood sugar levels, heart problems, wound infections, and mental health issues.
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. Elaine Duryea, M.D., Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Medical Director of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Clinic at Parkland Health
The study builds on knowledge gained from existing UT Southwestern and Parkland programs that aim to reduce high mortality rates among new mothers in southern Dallas County. The Extending Maternal Care After Pregnancy (eMCAP) program utilizes community health workers, nurse home visits, scheduled virtual visits, and an in-person mobile unit with medical providers, social workers, and pharmacy services deployed within the community to extend and enhance postpartum care for diabetes, hypertension, and behavioral health services.
"This program demonstrates that the health care community needs only to start somewhere to begin to tackle the issue, and simple, low-cost meaningful changes that incorporate the lived experiences of the mothers being served will make deep inroads in addressing health inequities in the postnatal space," said Marjorie Quint-Bouzid, D.P.A., RN, NEA-BC, Parkland's senior vice president of Women and Infants Specialty Health.
"Our department is honored to have been given this award. Maternal health is of the utmost importance, and the findings of this study will provide women's health care providers with more guidance and resources to ensure that their patients receive even better care in the future," said Catherine Spong, M.D., Chair and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UT Southwestern and holder of the Paul C. MacDonald Distinguished Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
UT Southwestern's award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.