A new “pregnancy medical centre” model of care could lead to improved outcomes for pregnant women and their babies, new research has suggested.
The proposed model could also lead to significant cost savings as women benefit from shorter hospital stays and fewer emergency visits, according to the new study.
The study was presented last month at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting in the US.
The researchers looked at the impact of a pregnancy medical home model on the utilization of emergency services and hospital days in a low-income population in Houston, Texas.
Inspired by a primary care medical centre, these services were expanded to include obstetrics and gynaecology, creating a pregnancy medical home exclusively for women and children. The medical home integrated obstetrics/gynaecology, maternal-fetal medicine, paediatrics, and behavioural health, as well as optometry, dentistry, radiology, laboratory and pharmacy—all in one location.
The home provides team-based care with midwives and physicians in the clinic and a hospitalist model for inpatient care. Extended hours and walk-in/same day appointments provided opportunities to avoid unnecessary emergency room visits.
Comparing this unique care model with traditional obstetric care, the researchers found that women receiving care at the medical home were significantly less likely to utilise to attend the emergency department and also spent significantly fewer days in hospital. In addition, their infants spent significantly fewer days in the hospital and were also less likely to visit the emergency department.
Unsurprisingly, there were significant cost savings associated with these better outcomes for women and their infants.
“The decreased need to use these services resulted in an estimated annual savings of over $800,000 for pregnant women and over $1.6 million for newborns,” explained Professor Lisa Hollier, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology for Baylor College of Medicine and one of the researchers of the study.
“We believe this model can readily serve as a national model for improved health care, substantial savings and improved outcomes,” Hollier added.