Mar 29, 2023



Black Maternal Health: How Healthgrades is Working to Resolve Inequitable Care

See how Healthgrades is working to improve health outcomes for Black patients living in maternity care deserts.

At Healthgrades, we strive to empower millions of consumers every day with the most accurate, comprehensive information they need to make confident healthcare choices, whether it’s finding the right doctor, hospital, or care. To make access to care easier and more transparent, we provide data that’s not available anywhere else, and holding regular engineering hackathons can help us find the best ways to present this useful information. We’re able to align our purpose with action, as Healthgrades engineers can develop ideas and solutions that aim to address prevalent healthcare issues. 

One such topic is racial disparities in maternal care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than White women. This issue remains a significant concern in need of awareness and solutions, so in light of Black Maternal Health Week, we’re sharing how Healthgrades is working to improve maternal health outcomes for underserved patients.

Ideating Life-Saving Care Solutions

Our engineers recently participated in an “Empowered Engineering Session” to address inequities in maternal care. During this hackathon, our teams brainstormed solutions to improve the healthcare experience for those living in maternity care deserts: regions where access to reproductive and obstetric-gynecological health services is limited or nonexistent. 

Maternity care deserts affect 2.2 million people of childbearing age, posing a significant threat to the health of pregnant women and their babies. A recent report by the March of Dimes found that 36% of all U.S. counties are considered maternity care deserts, with most of these counties in rural or low-income regions. This lack of access to care is particularly acute for Black patients, who are more likely to live in these areas and face additional barriers to care, such as implicit bias and discrimination from medical personnel. 

Additionally, the CDC states that more than 80% of pregnancy-related deaths between 2017 and 2019 were preventable and stemmed from social determinants of health: non-medical factors affecting how people live, work, and perform daily tasks. There’s also an alarming rise in maternal mortality rates in the U.S.—the number of deaths increased to 1,205 in 2021, a sharp increase from years earlier. But as the leading platform where Americans search for care and a provider of outcomes-focused Obstetrics and Gynecology hospital quality ratings and awards, Healthgrades is uniquely positioned to provide the maternity care tools and educational content needed to raise awareness of this problem and help lessen these devastating statistics.

During our hackathon, Faye McCray, Head of Health Equity & Social Impact (HESI), and Rose Aka-James, Senior Project Manager for the HESI team, hosted a presentation and an engaging Q&A session with attendees to discuss the pervasiveness of racial discrepancies and maternity care deserts. Our attendees then split into three web engineering squads, mulling over questions about Black maternal care accessibility, affordability, and equity, such as: 

  • How do we help pregnant people find more compassionate maternity care? 
  • How do we increase access to non-MD maternity care professionals like doulas? 
  • How do we eliminate barriers to care stemming from social determinants of health? 
  • How do we support the millions of patients living in maternity care deserts?

Using technical and UX designs, user workflows, and prototypes, our engineers ideated and presented their approaches. Knowing that their ideas will help fuel our product pipeline, our participants found the experience as a great way to deepen their emotional investment and stretch their creativity in addressing obstacles to equitable care. With the findings from this hackathon in mind, we’re looking forward to new offerings in the future that will improve access to care for all patients, regardless of their gender, race, or socioeconomic status. 

“Our teams did a fantastic job shining a new light on Healthgrades’ purpose,” Faye McCray said of the hackathon experience. “What we’ve learned throughout the process is already informing the products and user features we are adding to our pipeline. We have an exciting future ahead of us.”

Making Equitable Healthcare a Reality with Healthgrades

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If you’re looking to impact patients’ lives and improve DEI initiatives in healthcare, join our team at Healthgrades. We value unique perspectives from diverse backgrounds to better understand and effectively address important healthcare issues. Explore available career opportunities to learn more about working with us, where you’ll make a difference in enhancing the healthcare experience for all patients.

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