In 2008, South Carolina had never received a grade higher than D on its March of Dimes premature birth report card. Dangerous complications are associated with premature births. Ending the increasingly common practice of scheduling unnecessary deliveries was a major opportunity to not only save our state millions of dollars, but to save babies.
Working together, a number of organizations in South Carolina took action by educating future moms about why it was crucial to wait 39 weeks before they gave birth. Hospitals and doctors were engaged and offered support as they worked to change their policies and processes. Later, an innovative approach to payment reform meant hospitals and doctors would no longer be paid for delivering babies early without a medical reason.
The initiative has made incredible progress. Fewer babies are dying. Fewer are born with low birth weights. Fewer are spending their first weeks of life in the neonatal intensive care unit. In South Carolina, early elective delivery rates have been cut by half. And 60 percent of our birthing hospitals have completely eliminated unnecessary early deliveries. Statewide elective deliveries have been reduced by more than half, and more than $6 million in health care expenses have been avoided.
South Carolina’s highly effective, successful work in these areas has received national press and acclaim, and is now used as a case study for other states.
Partners in this effort include the 45 South Carolina birthing hospitals, BlueCross BlueShield of SC, SC American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, SC Department of Health and Human Services, SC March of Dimes, SC Neonatology Consortium, SC OBGYN Society