Is Telehealth the Future for Prenatal Care? Guest blogger Dr Jason Collins shares his experiences.
Posted on January 16th, 2015 by Ali Whittaker
“Urgent, Urgent, Urgent” stated the e-mail from a mom in Switzerland. Her recent ultrasound documented a cord around the neck of her 32 week old baby. Reading about Pregnancy Institute’s (PI) research on Umbilical Cord Accidents (UCA), an ongoing PI study using home fetal monitoring remotely caught her attention. We agreed to monitor her baby from New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States. Arrangements were made to ship her equipment from Analogic Inc. Boston Massachusetts and begin monitoring her pregnancy. She was evaluated every afternoon, each day. Her data was reviewed on a Blackberry daily. She delivered without incident at 36 weeks. PI received a beautiful baby picture and thank you note which is framed and on the wall of my office. We have never met in person.
The ability to care for mothers globally is doable. Telehealth platforms for vital signs (B/P, Pulse, Temp, Weight, Respirations, simple lab tests) exist. Adding prenatal care to the list of Telehealth applications is here. Pregnancy Institute has explored technology for distant pregnancy care for over twenty years. The tools exist to care for pregnant moms at home, including smart phone based ultrasound. What is really needed is a smart phone based fetal monitor. Next is an integrated platform which automatically trends the incoming data. One of the first pilots for this was a web based pilot called “Maternet” without any marketing dozens of moms found the site and began charting their vital signs. It is clear from several pilot projects that moms can, and want to, perform their own prenatal care. This telehealth capability means that fewer regular visits to an office are needed.
Prenatal Telehealth will allow the pregnancy care giver time to concentrate on pregnancy problems and identify early prenatal issues such as high blood pressure. The “routine” care can now be done by the mom reliably with interest. The convenience of being able to stay home especially with children is an advantage. To be able to trend physical measurements and fetal movements daily is invaluable.
Obstetrician Dr Jason Collins has dedicated his career to stillbirth research and umbilical cord accidents. The Pregnancy Institute Inc is a non-profit organization created to study normal pregnancies. It is designed to promote the likelihood of healthier pregnancies resulting in well monitored, full-term live births.