What does a healthy birth look like?

By June 17, 2014 No Comments

The Daily Beast recently ran an article, The App Based Healthcare of the Future, which was refreshingly honest about the limitations of apps, wearables, and other health tech to drive better health for all. The article contends that:

There’s a need for the new wave of health tech to build some form of wellness literacy…This means getting to work establishing two things necessary for any tech project to get off the ground: standards, and data–that unified view of what a healthy person looks like, in order to better determine what is wrong.

healthy birthWe’ve been thinking a lot about how standards and data can help us create a unified view of what a healthy mother and baby look like, and for that matter what healthy birth looks like. We all know a healthy birth when we see it, but how can we improve birth if we don’t have a measurable standard of “healthy” and don’t know what kind of care most reliably achieves this standard? Is the absence of illness or injury enough? Of course that is a necessary part of a healthy birth, but could being healthy also encompass how a woman feels, how prepared and supported she is to take on motherhood, how her birth impacts her postpartum recovery, how ready she is to care for her baby? And can we measure these things in a way that can help the system organize and deliver care better?

One thing is for sure: we can’t measure these things without asking women themselves how they’re doing. Any measure of quality that relies only on clinical data is a partial measure of quality, at best. That’s why we feel so strongly that technology should connect the clinical data with data reported from women, to get a fuller picture of what healthy looks like. Our Strong Start project with the American Association of Birth Centers provides the opportunity to test this approach and combine data from the maternity record and from patient surveys in a common database.

A healthy birth is a beauty to behold and should be the standard we aim to achieve for all women and babies. And a healthy birth often needs little in the way of technology. But as health tech takes hold, let’s use it to help us “see” healthy birth, and to drive the changes our system needs to make it possible for all.

Leave a Reply