Improving health outcomes for Black birthing parents
Birthing parent: a more inclusive title describing any person who is currently undergoing or recently went through the pregnancy process.
NYU Langone Maternity Care Companion empowers Black birthing parents to take more control of their pregnancy process through providing them with ways to better prepare and educate themselves as well as more easily communicate their needs and preferences to healthcare providers.
Black birthing parents in the U.S. are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than women in any other racial group. Our challenge was to see how we could leverage digital health technology to achieve more equitable health outcomes and experiences for Black birthing parents at NYU Langone Health.
We began our research by looking into different areas of potential causes of fatality during pregnancy in Black women including individuals' insurance status, level of prenatal care, access to healthcare, biological differences, and income levels.
We found that while a lot of them do have an impact on birthing outcomes, they aren’t enough to account for the large gap between Black birthing parents and individuals of other races.
So after conducting thorough research we determined that the primary cause of the high mortality rate of Black birthing parents was healthcare provider bias and racism in doctor attitudes towards patients.
Our secondary research focused on the above areas.
We met with 12 birthing parents to further identify pain points, frustrations, needs, and desires within the current hospital experience.
The following quotes are a very small snapshot of what we both heard and saw from the users we interviewed and also read about online. Stories are often not unique to one person and we saw a lot of common ground and pain points in all the experiences of the Black birthing parents we heard.
Our key takeaways:
There is a strong fear of discrimination when Black birthing parents meet with white healthcare workers
Users place a large emphasis on verbal care and communication, and often feel insulted by healthcare workers
Users want their care to be transparent, responsive, and easily accessible
Users often feel like they are not educated enough to speak up about their own care
Mental health and support is very important during the pregnancy process
Many users felt that they could not speak out about their negative experiences.
I conducted 8 out of the 12 interviews and led an interview synthesis session to identify different areas we could further explore.
We noticed during affinity mapping that there were a lot of patient feelings centered around feeling confused and unsupported by hospital staff.
We compared our primary and secondary research to further look into potential opportunity areas for our solution.
Doctors often overlook signs of leading causes of complications and ignore patient concerns...
Most of these leading causes are preventable. Timing and when symptoms are discovered also play a large role in successful health outcomes.
Patients don't feel educated enough to speak up, and often just go along with what the doctor is saying even if they have doubts...
Hospitals have comprehensive informational resources, yet they are often not well organized and can be hard to find.
Doctors have limited availability and often only have a few minutes of face time with patients...
Patients appreciate face time with their doctors but are also willing to learn on their own time.
Patients want their doctor to know who they are even if they are assigned a different doctor at each visit...
Hospital file transfers don’t have any user’s information or input other than diagnosis from their previous doctor.
Black birthing parents often have choices pushed onto them, like taking pain killers when they are against taking them or having a c-section when they want a natural birth...
Doulas exist to help explain different options so they are prepared to make informed decisions during their pregnancy and labor.