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Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Collaborates with Ariadne Labs and UMass Memorial Health to Launch TeamBirth, an Initiative to Improve Maternal Care

Contact: Phil Tracey/

Initiative will work to improve well-being of mothers across New England through stronger communication and shared decision-making

WELLESLEY / WORCESTER — Harvard Pilgrim Health Care today announced a new collaboration aimed at improving maternal health and well-being across New England. Through a collaboration with Ariadne Labs and UMass Memorial Health, TeamBirth, a clinically proven care process innovation pioneered by Ariadne Labs will initially launch at UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital in Leominster and UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester this May. Lessons from this collaboration will be used to establish TeamBirth as a standard of care that benefits people giving birth across New England.

Americans today are 50 percent more likely to die during childbirth than prior generations, showing a continuously rising maternal mortality rate over decades, despite advances in health care. Data also shows that the risk is higher for Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women. Developed by the Delivery Decisions Initiative at Ariadne Labs, TeamBirth aims to improve both safety and dignity in childbirth by structuring the essential information that should be communicated during every labor assessment. During its pilot program, Ariadne Labs reported that 79 percent of TeamBirth patients believed their preferences made a difference in the care they received and 94 percent reported their clinical team talked with them in a way they could understand.

“Through our collaboration with Ariadne Labs and UMass Memorial HealthAlliance, our goal is to improve birth outcomes, decrease cesarean section procedures, and improve the patient experience for expectant mothers and their families,” said Michael Sherman, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at the combined organization of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan. “We look forward to working together on this innovative program that puts the patient at the center of the clinical care team.”  

Two primary elements comprise the TeamBirth initiative — efforts to improve communication between the mother, the family, and the clinical care team, which includes a live birth plan, storyboarding and birth plan “huddles” between the clinical team throughout labor; and a pair of decision-making tools aimed at reducing cesarean sections.

“The project flips the standard script of how to improve safety in healthcare.  Rather than treating people’s experience as a secondary goal, we’re demonstrating how attending to the lived experience of people giving birth is a primary way to make outcomes equitable.  I’m grateful to Harvard Pilgrim for their visionary investment and UMass for their dedicated partnership to establish a new standard of care,” said Dr. Neel Shah, Director of the Delivery Decisions Initiative at Ariadne Labs and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. 

“As a community hospital I think we are already very patient centered but any way that we can improve our patients’ birth experience and our team’s communication is a welcome improvement,” said Dr. Daniel Terk of HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital. “I am very much looking forward to TeamBirth in Leominster and hoping to see a benefit for all of our patients, and their growing families. “

“This initiative will enhance and strengthen our care delivery processes, and improve the patient experience, for our expectant mothers, other birthing persons, and their families,” said Dr. Tiffany Moore Simas, Chair and Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical Center.  “Our academic medical center embraces an environment of continuous improvement - that commitment is why we are partnering with Harvard Pilgrim and Ariadne Labs. Our care teams are excited about this opportunity.”

UMass Memorial Health facilities include a tertiary care referral center for high risk pregnancies, a level 3 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and comprehensive obstetric and gynecologic care. This includes specialty services in gyn oncology, urogynecology, reproductive endocrinology and infertility. A new in vitro fertilization (IVF) center is scheduled to open later this year. 

Harvard Pilgrim and Ariadne Labs will launch TeamBirth during two closed events: Tuesday, May 17 at 2:30 p.m., at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Knowles Hall; and Wednesday, May 18 at 9:00 a.m. at UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital in Leominster. Media interested in attending the events should contact Anthony Berry, Sr. Director, Media and Public Relations at UMass Memorial Health:

About Harvard Pilgrim

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care along with its subsidiaries provide health benefit plans, programs and services to more than 3 million members and customers, including its subsidiaries that serve national self-insured and population health customers, in New England and beyond. A leading not-for-profit health services company, we guide our members – and the communities we serve – to better health. In partnership with our expansive network of doctors and hospitals, we’re improving health outcomes and lowering costs through clinical quality and innovative care management. Our commitment to the communities we serve is driven by the passion of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. Through its work, low- and moderate-income families are gaining greater access to fresh, affordable food — a cornerstone to better health and well-being. 

About Ariadne Labs

Ariadne Labs is a joint center for health systems innovation at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. With a mission to save lives and reduce suffering, our vision is that health systems equitably deliver the best possible care for every patient, everywhere, every time. We use human centered design, health systems implementation science, public health expertise, and frontline clinical care experience to design, test and spread scalable systems-level solutions to some of health care’s biggest problems. From developing checklists and conversation guides to fostering international collaborations and establishing global standards of measurement, our work has been accessed in more than 165 countries, touching hundreds of millions of lives. Visit to learn more and to learn about our response to COVID-19.

About UMass Memorial Health

UMass Memorial Health is the largest not-for-profit health care system in Central Massachusetts with more than 14,000 employees and 1,700 physicians, many of whom are members of UMass Memorial Medical Group. We are the clinical partner of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Our comprehensive system includes UMass Memorial Health – HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital, UMass Memorial Health – Marlborough Hospital, UMass Memorial Medical Center and UMass Memorial Health – Community Healthlink. Together, we impact every aspect of life in the region by making health and wellness services available to everyone, advocating for social equality and providing economic stability and opportunity. There are many ways to heal. We pursue them all. Relentlessly. Visit



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