Family planning platform launches Black maternal health program to advance racial health equity
A partnership with the National Birth Equity Collaborative (NBEC)
In the U.S., Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause compared to white women.1 Specifically, Black women are more likely to experience pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and preterm birth2—complications that can present health issues for not just the mother, but also the baby.
These disparities highlight a significant need to improve healthcare for Black women during pregnancy and postpartum. To help address that need, Ovia Health—a digital health and fertility platform for women acquired by Labcorp in 2021—has partnered with the National Birth Equity Collaborative (NBEC), an organization that supports maternal health equity for Black women and birthing people. This partnership helps deliver educational health content to Ovia members and connect them with racially concordant healthcare providers.
Our mission at Labcorp is to improve health and improve lives—partnerships like this one help dig even deeper and strive to close gaps in care.
- Black women are three times more likely than white women to die from a pregnancy-related cause, such as preeclampsia1-2
- When patients and providers share the same race or ethnicity (racial concordance), this can lead to improved health outcomes3-5
- In partnership with NBEC, Ovia is promoting health equity for Black mothers by connecting members with racially concordant providers and delivering educational content
Prioritizing racially concordant healthcare
From live conversations about birth planning to long- and short-form content about birth outcomes, Ovia and NBEC have collaborated on a wealth of educational materials for Black mothers to access through the Ovia app. For example, for Black Breastfeeding Week in August, Ovia and NBEC shared celebratory stories about breastfeeding to empower Black mothers and their families as they care for their children.
In addition to offering supportive and educational content, Ovia’s partnership with NBEC has enabled the app’s care team to direct Ovia members to in-network, racially concordant healthcare providers who can help with their pregnancy and postpartum needs, such as doulas, nurses, midwives and physicians. Research shows that a shared race or ethnicity between physicians and patients (racial concordance) can be associated with several positive health outcomes, including improvements in decision-making,3 medication adherence4 and patient perceptions.5
Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, founder and president of NBEC, believes that any effective long-term strategy for ending the Black maternal health crisis must include engaging birth workers who have the talent, skill and empathy that is too often missing from the care that Black mothers and their babies receive during pregnancy and postpartum.
“NBEC is proud to uplift birth workers—including doulas and midwives—who are on the front lines of the maternal health crisis working to eradicate the harm so often inflicted on Black mamas and their babies,” said Dr. Crear-Perry.
Racially concordant healthcare is associated with improvements in decision-making, medication adherence and patient perceptions.3-5
Real connections lead to real results
Improving healthcare access is filled with nuance, and that’s because every single patient from every community is different and has different needs.
For instance, Black mothers face a higher risk of preeclampsia compared to white mothers.2 According to a claims analysis from Ovia, the platform has seen an 18% reduction in rates of preeclampsia across all members, thanks to the outreach and education provided by initiatives like the Black maternal health program with NBEC.
Moreover, families have expressed gratitude for the resources they’ve been able to access through Ovia’s Black maternal health program. For example, when a white member and her Black partner were expecting their first baby together, they sought help from Ovia in finding a Black pediatrician, as they’d read about the benefits of racially concordant healthcare but weren’t quite sure how to find the right provider for their family. With the help of Ovia’s care team, they found several options within their network, allowing them to get the best possible care for their baby.
Thanks to this foundational support, Ovia members can feel empowered to connect more closely with their healthcare providers and work together to make more informed health choices throughout their birth journeys.
Expanding equitable healthcare for Black mothers
A vital next step in improving healthcare for all is assessing accountability and equitable care from health systems.
Currently, Ovia’s Black maternal health program supports Black women during their pregnancies and identifies women at risk of pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia.
Looking ahead, members of Ovia’s Black maternal health program will also have an opportunity to participate in a research project that aims to advance Black maternal health equity. In partnership with NBEC and Johns Hopkins University, Ovia is helping to develop a tool that will assess hospitals according to the care they provide. To help validate the tool, members of Ovia’s Black maternal health program will participate in the study and give feedback about their experiences, with the ultimate goal of expanding access to this tool to bring all Ovia members the best possible care.
The road to healthcare access for all is filled with gaps, but promising partnerships like this one help smooth the journey for underserved populations.
Learn more about the initiatives we are leading to drive change within the communities we serve across the country and around the globe and the impact they are making on our communities at https://www.labcorp.com/access.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Working Together to Reduce Black Maternal Mortality. CDC.gov. Accessed January 12, 2023.https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/features/maternal-mortality/index.html
- Population Reference Bureau. High Premature Birth Rates Among US Black Women May Reflect the Stress of Racism and Health and Economic Factors. PRB.org. Accessed January 12, 2023. https://www.prb.org/resources/high-premature-birth-rates-among-u-s-black-women-may-reflect-the-stress-of-racism-and-health-and-economic-factors/
- Cooper-Patrick L, Gallo JJ, Gonzales JJ, et al. Race, gender, and partnership in the patient-physician relationship. JAMA. 1999;282(6):583-589. doi:10.1001/jama.282.6.583
- Traylor AH, Schmittdiel JA, Uratsu CS, Mangione CM, Subramanian U. Adherence to cardiovascular disease medications: does patient-provider race/ethnicity and language concordance matter?. J Gen Intern Med. 2010;25(11):1172-1177. doi:10.1007/s11606-010-1424-8
- Saha S, Beach MC. Impact of physician race on patient decision-making and ratings of physicians: A randomized experiment using video vignettes. J Gen Intern Med. 2020;35:1084-091. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-020-05646-z