Arkansas: What Medicaid Means for Women's Health
In Arkansas, 67% of births are funded by Medicaid - the second-highest rate among the states. The good news is that women are getting access to care they need to have healthy births. But improving statistics for a predominantly Medicaid population is not without its challenges, including:
- OB/GYNs who work in areas heavily populated with Medicaid patients work longer hours and are at a higher risk for burnout.
- Arkansas has medically underserved areas where women are less likely to get proper prenatal care and more likely to experience higher maternal mortality rates.
- The state has one of the nation's worst maternal mortality rates, exacerbated by a rise in complicated births. Cesarean births have risen from 5% in the 1960s to 33% of births in 2016, increasing risks to the mother and child.
The right staff of physicians and advanced practitioners can help you produce better outcomes for your Medicaid patients. Here’s how to get there:
Recruit mission-driven OB/GYN physicians. People in rural areas are more likely to be dependent on Medicaid. Many smaller, rural healthcare facilities find it challenging to source and recruit top physician candidates, leaving barriers to care for those who need it most.
Kearny County Hospital, a community facility located in a rural part of Kansas, has created a successful recruitment strategy by focusing on mission-driven physicians and offering benefits that appeal to those who are service-minded.
Advance your practice. OB/GYNs who work in areas heavily populated with Medicaid patients are shown to work longer hours and have an increased risk of burnout.
Advanced practitioners – including Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants – can provide certain services an OB/GYN would at a comparable level. These include pelvic exams, breast exams, mammograms and HPV screenings, among others. What this means is that you could be using advanced practitioners to cover these services traditionally handled by your OB/GYNs, freeing up physicians’ time for more complex procedures.
Reduced burnout results in a better working life for your staff and better outcomes for your patients. You can also reign in your staffing costs and drive revenue by increasing the number of patients you can see.
Offer birth alternatives. Some Obstetrics practices have found benefit in incorporating midwives into their staffing mix. Certified Nurse Midwives have the education and training to provide a range of women’s health services.
Watsonville Community Hospital in Northern California diverts low-risk pregnancies to midwives, allowing physicians to focus on more complicated cases. Midwives have been shown to produce fewer C-sections and help hospitals save costs.