Blue Band Initiative

To identify gaps across systems providing care on maternal HTN and reach our communities across urban and rural regions, the MNPQC is introducing HTN in Pregnancy Care Process Model as a comprehensive approach to care. Innovative strategies embedded into this process model include system approaches to be implemented across the continuum of care such as the Blue Band Project, education materials such as emergency room (ER) posters, and a Maternal HTN telehealth education via Project ECHO. These programs will be offered to 83 delivering hospitals spanning MN. Through these innovative multisector system approaches, our program will be in alignment to succeed in 25% reduction of SMM by February 2023.

Blue Band Project: an innovative approach within the MNPQC hypertension initiative

In October 2020, MNPQC partnered with CentraCare, to launch the Blue Band Project throughout their health systems in MN. CentraCare St. Cloud is a regional hospital in Central MN serving a micropolitan and rural population of women. Equipped with the largest birthing center in central MN, is a hub for pregnant and postpartum women to receive services. 

The Blue Band Project has been used at Kittitas Valley Healthcare in Ellensburg, WA, Riverview Health in Crookston, MN and TriCounty Health in Wadena, MN however, there is no indication that these institutions have evaluated their programs. As part of the MNPQC initiative, the Blue Band Project will be evaluated with quantitative and qualitative data from patients and providers in the program. To our knowledge, none of these health systems involved the community. Both hospitals in MN are in the early stages of implementation and will support our evaluation efforts.

MNPQC began the Blue Band Project in October of 2020 at CentraCare, where one of our key leadership members has implemented this strategy. In the Blue Band Project, providers in hospitals and clinics screen pregnant and postpartum patients with a universal tool, to determine current and future risk factors for HTN. Patients determined to be at risk are offered education and a blue bracelet to wear throughout pregnancy and up to 6 weeks postpartum. The bracelet identifies the patient as being at risk for eclampsia and provides internet resources for the patient, healthcare professionals, and first responders/EMT’s that the patient may encounter. Patients dawning blue bands are encouraged to alert all healthcare professionals of the risk including those at unplanned visits such as urgent care and ER visits. This strategy works to empower moms with the visual reminder of their diagnosis and the support of those providers who prescribed it with her as she seeks medical care for symptoms or concerns.

Individualized education will be provided by the MNPQC partners in local public health nurses and home visitors. The home visitors or public health nurses will follow up between hospital and clinic visits to minimize gaps in identifying HTN needs during pregnancy and postpartum. Resources provided by the MNPQC on patient education materials on HTN during pregnancy.

Beyond healthcare facilities, the Blue Band Project at MNPQC involves multiple systems across the community. Throughout these systems, the critical information on HTN care will reach communities where blue bands are deployed, with the education provided throughout these systems within the community to make caring for mothers at risk a shared community effort. Key system partners include health care, public health, social services, and community programming. Through engaging multiple system partners, key roles that will receive this education will range across health care professionals, such as EMTs, fire departments, police officers, community pharmacists, WIC program staff, local public health, and urgent care providers. This education will be conducted by MNPQC through their Project ECHO sessions, encouraging networking throughout the state, and will build a greater support system for mothers and aid in unifying communities for a great cause.