Telemedicine is nothing new when treating pregnant women. Prenatal visits for expecting mothers have been done online for years. Monitoring weight, blood pressure, and fetal heart rate at home are possible. Many practices offer live chats with their patients for mental health support, postpartum visits, and outpatient support.
How Telehealth Is Used In Maternal Fetal Medicine
Telemedicine has gotten more mainstream than it was in the past. With the world shutting down during Covid, virtual prenatal appointments were vital in keeping people as healthy as possible. There are many reasons why telehealth has reduced maternal mortality and morbidity, increased fetal outcomes, and created a more substantial community presence for local hospitals:
- Shortage of maternal-fetal specialists: With less than 2,000 specialists across the United States, there aren’t enough maternal-fetal specialists to care for pregnant women. Most specialists are concentrated in major cities, creating maternity “deserts” regarding healthcare. This shortage creates limited access to experts with high-risk pregnancies. These specialists are essential for healthy pregnancies and deliveries. Rural hospitals and clinics in smaller towns can’t afford full-time MFM specialists. Most smaller hospitals lack the patient volume needed to justify these specialists. Your hospital would need anywhere from a thousand to fifteen hundred deliveries to support one MFM.
- MFM Specialists are poorly distributed: Out of the 2,000 MFM specialists, 95 percent practice in major cities. Vast areas of the country lack the necessary experts in high-risk pregnancies. Hosting MFM appointments online rebalances the distribution of specialists in facilities when they’re needed. A specialist can be over a thousand miles away and still conduct an appointment for maternal patients.
- Serving disenfranchised women: You might think that the most prominent problem in MFM healthcare is distance. That’s not true. Some women who need consultations with MFM experts might not have bus fares, gas money, or parking fare. These women are labeled as “non-compliant” because they can’t afford to keep their scheduled appointments. In this scenario, telemedicine is an excellent resource. But before you jump into an online visit, ensure state and city laws don’t prohibit them if you’re in the same community.
- Windshield time for expecting mothers: Telemedicine can overcome language barriers with patients that don’t speak English. These appointments can also improve outcomes and patient experiences. If you’re discussing something complex with your MFM specialist, an online appointment can help since you can access research materials.
- Limiting treatment time: When expecting better outcomes in pregnancy and delivery, avoiding delays in treatment is essential. Patients diagnosed with complications and severe conditions require time-sensitive interventions. Telemedicine allows MFM specialists to see their patients quickly. With virtual appointments, specialists can visit their patients, review ultrasounds, and share test results. They can also discuss steps an expecting mother needs to take.
Scheduling a Telemedicine Appointment
Here at Rosenberg Maternal-Fetal Medicine, we strive to increase the positive outcomes of delivery and pregnancy. It’s our goal to ensure your pregnancy goes as smoothly as possible. If you can’t make it to a physical appointment, contact us by calling or visiting us online to schedule a prenatal visit as soon as possible.