Commentary: In the last 40 years, the number of women in the workforce has skyrocketed. In 1975, only 47% of women with children under 18 were employed. Now, that number is 70%. Unlike many other medical conditions for which employees will require care, maternity care offers a unique opportunity for employees to plan ahead for a hospital stay — so employers are wise to help employees and their families select the best hospital. This will help new mothers receive good care during pregnancy and delivery, and it makes good business sense, as well: Employers collectively pay for more than one-third of all deliveries in the U.S., through employer-sponsored health insurance plans. According to new data, there are many opportunities for improvements that would save lives and money.

The Leapfrog Group, a national purchaser-driven nonprofit watchdog organization, surveys hospitals on their progress in meeting maternity care standards. More than 1,500 hospitals publicly report data that is otherwise unavailable, in part because purchasers apply market leverage to encourage reporting. This week, Leapfrog released its Maternity Care Report, based on data analysis performed by Castlight Health. The report, available at www.LeapfrogGroup.org/HospitalSurveyReport, is the first in a series of reports on the most pressing areas of hospital quality and safety from the annual Leapfrog Hospital Survey, with data analysis performed by Castlight Health. The Maternity Care Report focuses on three areas of care: early elective deliveries, episiotomy and high risk deliveries.

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