AmeriHealth Caritas and March of Dimes Tackle Maternal Health Care Inequity in Pennsylvania
Implicit bias training for health care providers aims to improve health outcomes for Black mothers
AmeriHealth Caritas’ Pennsylvania health plans are collaborating with the March of Dimes to provide implicit bias training for health care providers to help mitigate the maternal health crisis that has disproportionately affected Black mothers and their unborn babies. Implicit bias refers to prejudicial attitudes toward and stereotypical beliefs about a particular group or members.
AmeriHealth Caritas Pennsylvania, a Medical Assistance (Medicaid) managed care plan serving central, northeastern and northwestern Pennsylvania, and AmeriHealth Caritas’ southeastern Pennsylvania Medicaid health plan are providing opportunities for health care providers who specialize in all aspects of pregnancy, from prenatal care to post-natal care, to take the implicit bias course at no charge. Upon completion of the course, health care providers will earn continuing medical education (CME) credits or nursing/social service education (CE) credits.
The March of Dimes’ Implicit Bias Training, called “Awareness to Action: Dismantling Bias in Maternal and Infant Healthcare®,” provides authentic, compelling content for health care providers caring for women before, during and after pregnancy. The course provides an overview of implicit bias, its impact on the maternal infant health crisis, the history of structural racism in the United States, and strategies for providers to both mitigate racial bias in maternity care and commit to a culture of equity.
“This training is consistent with our value-based programs, such as our Maternity Quality Enhancement and Maternity Bundle programs, which reward practices that improve health equity for Black pregnant women,rdquo said Dr. Lily Higgins, chief medical officer for AmeriHealth Caritas’ Pennsylvania health plans. “We believe this training will augment our efforts to reduce health disparities and achieve health equity for moms of color.”
The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) recently reported that racial and ethnic health disparities in the U.S. have worsened over the past two decades. Achieving federal Healthy People 2030 goals for Pregnancy and Childbirth, requires maternity care systems to address disparities that threaten maternal and infant health. Researchers have identified implicit bias among health care providers as a potential contributor to these disparities.
“The U.S. is in the midst of a maternal and infant health crisis, which is particularly devastating to women and babies of color. Each year, more than 700 women die from pregnancy-related causes, and that rate has more than doubled over the last 30 years,” said March of Dimes Senior Vice President and Interim Chief Medical and Health Officer Dr. Zsakeba Henderson. “Deeply entrenched structural racism is directly and negatively impacting the health of moms and babies of color. That’s why programs like this are invaluable in helping change the course of this crisis.”
Black patients who interacted with physicians with higher levels of implicit prejudice reported significantly lower levels of interpersonal care than did patients who interacted with physicians with lower levels of implicit prejudice.
“Black mothers die at three to four times the rate of white mothers and we must take a proactive approach to addressing this terrible racial disparity in women’s health,” Higgins said. “We need doctors to be aware of their implicit biases and be active listeners of their patient’s questions and concerns if we are to achieve better health outcomes.”