For decades, organizations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the March of Dimes have been promoting the importance of full-term pregnancies—those naturally reaching at least 39 weeks gestation—yet early elective deliveries still account for 10-15 percent of all deliveries.
Numerous studies show early elective deliveries are associated with increased maternal and neonatal complications for both mothers and newborns, compared to deliveries occurring beyond 39 weeks and women who go into labor on their own.
Decreasing the rate of early elective deliveries means:
- More mothers get safe, evidence-based care.
- Infants improve their chances for good physical and developmental health.
- Lower costs for public and private payers because they’re performing less caesarian sections for failed inductions, they have less neonatal intensive care unit admissions, and less associated complications for the newborns.
CMS took on 3 major activities as part of this Strong Start effort:
- Promoting Awareness - CMS supported broad-based awareness efforts in partnership with leading organizations, including the March of Dimes and ACOG, as well as other professional and advocacy organizations. These efforts targeted pregnant women, their families, their health providers, and organizations that serve pregnant women.
- Spreading Best Practices - to help speed and spread the adoption of best practices that reduce early elective deliveries, CMS built on the efforts and infrastructure of HHS’ Partnership for Patients, and the commitment of the nearly 4,000 participating institutions. The effort worked with the Partnership for Patients’ 26 Hospital Engagement Networks to make measurable goals for participating hospitals, and to give technical assistance in testing strategies and putting them into place. The Partnership for Patients infrastructure also supported efforts to collect data, measure success and promote quality improvement.
- Promoting Transparency - CMS supported efforts to collect performance data, measure success, and assist with continuous quality improvement.
The Strong Start initiative period of performance has concluded and is no longer active.