Overlake Medical Center Joins Statewide Effort to Enhance Childbirth Experience and Safety

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Quality improvement program aims to reduce C-sections and increase adherence to birth plans.

Overlake Medical Center & Clinics is one of the first 15 hospitals in Washington state to participate in the TeamBirth maternity program, which began Oct. 23.

Pregnant woman smiling.

TeamBirth improves care by ensuring people giving birth and the clinicians caring for them have shared input and understanding during the delivery of care. TeamBirth was developed by Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The program calls for team huddles at key decision points throughout the hospital stay. Huddles happen on admission to the hospital, with any changes to the patient or child’s condition, when decisions are made surrounding delivery and anytime the patient or a team member requests a huddle.

The huddle aspect of TeamBirth ensures that everyone involved in the birthing process is on the same page. The person giving birth—alongside any caregivers who are not part of hospital staff (doulas, spouses, parents of the expecting person, etc.)—convene with the labor and delivery staff to go over a birthing plan and any desires or expectations of the person giving birth. This ensures shared decision making between the new parent and hospital staff in case of any unexpected changes to the delivery plan.

The rollout of the TeamBirth program is a joint venture between the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) and Massachusetts-based Ariadne Labs, supported with funding by Ballmer Group.

Overlake, along with EvergreenHealth, launched TeamBirth in 2019 as one of only four hospitals in the country to partner with Ariadne Labs on the project. The 18-month project’s focus was on using a coordinated care model to ensure that every member of the childbirth team—including the birthing family, nurses, midwives, obstetricians, anesthesiologists, neonatologists, doulas and other specialists—remains informed and involved at every step of the birthing process to provide the most appropriate care.

“We witnessed encouraging results with TeamBirth and believe the project makes a positive difference in patients’ birth experience,” says Kristin Graham, MD, medical director for Women’s and Infants’ Services at Overlake. “Expanding this program across the state will help ensure more patients can communicate their values, concerns and preferences that align with the care they are receiving.”

WSHA will roll out TeamBirth to birthing hospitals in Washington in four cohorts, with a goal of reaching 100% program adoption in the state.

“We are excited to be one of the first states in the country to carry out TeamBirth, which is another tool our hospitals will have to ensure those giving birth will have the best possible experience in the hospital bringing their new child into the world,” WSHA CEO Cassie Sauer says. “Childbirth is such a special moment of life, and the implementation of this program calls for extensive avenues of communication to keep everyone on the same page, and to keep the expecting parent as an active participant in their health care.”