Telehealth Shows You What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Motherhood is daunting enough, but research studies show how telehealth can be used to put you at ease about your soon-to-come baby!
According to global trends, maternal morbidity and mortality rates have declined, yet the U.S. is one of the countries that has actually seen an increase in these rates over the past couple decades. Compared to other high-income countries, this trend is mostly tied to Black and American Indian women, as well as women from rural areas. In rural counties especially, transportation is a key obstacle to receiving critical prenatal care since women have to travel long distances to reach a health care facility. This is where telehealth appointments come into play!
Telehealth has been applied to obstetrical practices both during and after pregnancy — this includes virtual prenatal visits, at-home monitoring, and post-partum lactation support.
During the prenatal period, telehealth has replaced some in-person visits for low-risk pregnancies — this includes monitoring the fetal vitals like heart rate and blood pressure and answering patients’ questions. Of course, equipment would have to be provided to these mothers along with proper instructions on how to use them. But overall, this saves the long trip that some moms have to face, as well as having to take leave off work.
Tech-savvy moms might also have an app available to them to monitor their baby’s health! Studies at George Washington University monitored maternal use of an app called Babyscripts, which gives information on the baby’s blood pressure and weight and provide moms with tips on nutrition and breastfeeding tips. All while maintaining a nurturing physician-patient relationship!
After reading about these awesome applications, I couldn’t help but think of a couple drawbacks that came to mind. The main one being the access to medical equipment and technological apps. Can lower income mothers afford to consider virtual appointments? Will their insurance companies cover these appointments as if they were in-person? Do mothers in rural areas have adequate internet access to hold virtual appointments? These are the tough questions we must ask. Gabriela Weigel, Brittni Frederiksen, and Usha Ranji from the Kaiser Family Foundation write:
“Most states do not specifically mention pregnancy-related care in their Medicaid reimbursement laws and policies, meaning these technologies may be out of reach for low-income women.”
Obstetrician–gynecologists and other physicians that are key figures in the mom’s and her baby’s journey are also held accountable for the care and wellbeing of their patients — if they provide telehealth services, they must ensure that they have the proper equipment and comply with federal and state requirements. Working in healthcare means that the patients’ best interest should be prioritized, and in the case for moms, make sure that she and her baby get the best care.
So some of my final thoughts — telehealth will be more successful if everyone has access to it. Physicians should provide the utmost care to their patients by any means of service. This means that medical institutions should address the health disparities in maternal care between rural and urban regions, using telehealth services to reach out to mothers who may not have easy access to this care.
What I think ultimately drives this desire to care for mothers is the ethical obligation someone has when they decide to go into the healthcare industry. Working at Connect Wolf, a baby tech company that wants to provide ease to mothers, has emphasized the ethical considerations that must be taken into account. Moms from all walks of life and stages of pregnancy share the beauty of having their own child, and we want to reach out to as many of them.