D.C. Safe Babies Safe Moms launches project using AI to improve maternal and infant health outcomes at Clinton Global Initiative 2023 Meeting


The team will use artificial intelligence to build a safety surveillance system that health systems can use to identify risks and tailor care to birthing individuals and their babies

NEW YORK, Sept. 18, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — D.C. Safe Babies Safe Moms (SBSM), an initiative by MedStar Health that seeks to improve maternal and infant health outcomes, announced today the launch of its Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action project “AI/ML Learning to Reduce Maternal and Infant Health Disparities.” CGI works with organizations working to address the most pressing challenges in health, economics, food security, artificial intelligence, global supply chains, and more. The CGI 2023 meeting, September 18-19, convenes global and emerging leaders; organizations across government, business, and civil society; activists and advocates; and community workers and doers on the front lines to take action and make a tangible difference in people’s lives around the world.

The SBSM project will use advanced techniques in artificial intelligence and machine learning to build a maternal and infant health safety surveillance system for hospitals to proactively identify risks that could lead to adverse outcomes for birthing individuals and their babies. The goal of this project is to help care teams tailor care for patients before emergencies happen and help health systems better understand and address structural racism and racial disparities in maternal care. According to CDC data, Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women, even when education levels are the same.

“The status quo for maternal and infant care in the U.S. is unacceptable, but the momentum for change is here. With the support from the Clinton Global Initiative and our partners in this project, we can not only make things better for birthing individuals and their babies in the communities MedStar Health serves, but we can also create solutions that can be replicated in health systems across the country,” said Angela D. Thomas, DrPH, MPH, MBA, vice president, healthcare delivery research, MedStar Health Research Institute, and executive lead for D.C. Safe Babies Safe Moms.

“Artificial intelligence poses a huge opportunity for health systems, but as with all emerging technology, it’s essential that we take a thoughtful approach to learn and understand both its promise and its limitations,” said Ken Samet, FACHE, president and CEO, MedStar Health. “The Safe Babies Safe Moms team is laser-focused on creating sustainable change and addressing disparities in maternal healthcare. This project and their work overall are fantastic examples of how our health system is committed to reducing bias in all aspects of patient care.”

Using a “Black Box” approach, like using flight data recorders for aviation accident investigation, the SBSM team will use natural language processing and clinical informatics technology to monitor patient electronic health records and identify clinical patterns of care that might be influencing patient safety. In addition, the system will also analyze the sentiment and tone of provider notes in patient health records.

“Patient safety is multifactorial. It’s not just about monitoring a pregnant patient’s vital signs or making sure they come to all of their prenatal appointments,” said Thomas. “We must also examine how providers’ mindsets and implicit biases come into play. For example, in our pilot research, we found that healthcare providers were more likely to use negative and potentially stigmatizing language in the clinical notes of Black patients than their white patients.”

With today’s announcement, the SBSM team will begin product development with the goal of completing a beta model of the surveillance system at the end of the three-year Commitment to Action project. Throughout the work, scientists from MedStar Health Research Institute will oversee the data system development, and conduct evaluation and usability testing with care providers to ensure feedback from end users is incorporated. MedStar Health will also disseminate findings to contribute to the ongoing academic conversation around improving patient safety within the maternal and infant health space and identify other collaborators to partner with and scale up these efforts. 

D.C. Safe Babies Safe Moms was established in 2020 through a transformational investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation. The initiative brings together nationally recognized experts and care in the fields of women’s health, family medicine, behavioral health, and pediatrics across MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and strengthens ties to the community through critical partnerships with long-trusted organizations Community of Hope and Mamatoto Village.

For more information on SBSM, visit MedStarHealth.org/SafeBabiesSafeMoms.

About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)

About the Clinton Global Initiative: Founded by President Bill Clinton in 2005, the Clinton Global Initiative is a community of doers representing a broad cross section of society and dedicated to the idea that we can accomplish more together than we can apart. Through CGI’s unique model, more than 9,000 organizations have launched more than 3,900 Commitments to Action — new, specific, and measurable projects and programs. Learn more about the Clinton Global Initiative and how you can get involved at www.ClintonGlobal.org.

SOURCE MedStar Health