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This Unique New Maternity Program Is Greatly Improving Prenatal Health

After nine years of medical and financial success, Greenville Health System’s CenteringPregnancy program may very well be South Carolina’s - and perhaps even the nation’s - next step to improving prenatal care.

This communal approach to care involves grouping 8-12 pregnant women who have similar due dates together with their single healthcare provider. All of the components of traditional prenatal care, including health assessments and lab work, are involved in this model.

CenteringPregnacy is particularly unique in that it incorporates interactive learning and community building between patients.

Expecting mothers are able to to share personal opinions, concerns and life experience in order to empower each other and foster an invaluable sense of trust and support amongst the group. As studies have shown in similar interactive models used in academic settings, creating an environment that allows for open discussion and active participation has been shown to increase engagement and enthusiasm, as well as overall learning outcomes from the experience.

The Centering approach is also logistically and practically beneficial, reducing and even eliminating time patients spend sitting in the waiting room. Doctors are able to share information, answer questions, and give quality care to patients all at once, as opposed to repeating the same information multiple times across many separate appointments. This is a huge time-saver that ultimately allows the physicians to give better, more thorough assessments.

A five-year study led by the University of South Carolina and published in the Journal of Maternal and Child Health shows the program’s success reaches far beyond individual patient experience and satisfaction. Participation in CenteringPregnancy reduced the risk of a premature birth by 36 percent, saving an average of $22,667 for every premature birth avoided. Participation also reduced the risk of a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stay for the newborn baby by 28 percent.

"This newest research from South Carolina confirms that government and payer investments in CenteringPregancy pay tremendous dividends in healthier babies and moms, as well as substantial savings," says Angie Truesdale, Centering Healthcare Institute CEO.

In 2013 the Centering Expansion Project was implemented in order to spread the Centering approach to 10 additional healthcare providers in South Carolina. With an initial investment of $2.2 million in the program, overall saving from reduced NICU admissions, low birthweights and preterm births comes to $6.6 million in Medicaid expenditures in those babies’ first year of life.

Truesdale says, "South Carolina is a pioneer in incentivizing this evidenced-based care, and we hope other state Medicaid programs will follow suit so that their infants, new mothers and tax dollars can benefit in the same way."