To access the health services they need, many expectant mothers now take advantage of telehealth for pregnancy care. Appointments occur remotely by video-chat and phone, but are they truly effective in providing prenatal care? Parentology spoke to several health professionals about telehealth for pregnant women. Here are some of the benefits they identified for expectant mothers.
Reduces Health Care Costs
Every pregnancy is different. A mother may have incident-free pregnancies with her first three children. Then suddenly develops complications with the fourth. First-time mothers may also have a lot of questions and often become anxious about even small and natural changes. Unfortunately, constantly rushing to the hospital to investigate the cause adds up.
Hilary Erickson, owner and creator of Pulling Curls, is a registered nurse who worked in labor and delivery for almost 20 years. She tells Parentology, “Many individual situations and problems that come up can easily be talked about over the phone or video chat. Often, patients come into labor and delivery [for these problems and] and end up getting charged a lot by the hospital.”
Provides Care in Hard-To-Reach Areas
How does a woman receive health care if she lives in a remote area of the United States? What about when she lives on the smallest of Hawaii’s major islands?
Hawaii’s Lāna‘i Community Health Center on the island of Lāna‘i found 33.8% of resident births from 2013 to 2015 involved little to no prenatal care. The center’s solution was to provide the Tele OB Program.
The center tells Parentology, “… the TeleHealth Program provides patients on Lāna‘i with greater access to OB care. [This includes] regular checks and more [follow-ups] without ever leaving the island.” Travel can increase the cost of off-island care. So, this service helps mothers who could not afford medical care otherwise.
Helps With Mental Health Treatment
Dr. Anna Yam is a licensed clinical psychologist with a telehealth practice at Bloom Psychology. She acknowledges telehealth has been widely adopted by mental health professionals. Psychologists can now offer therapy sessions via videoconferencing or phone calls. There are even HIPPA-compliant platforms designed for this specific use.
Yam says, “Research shows that for most mental health [conditions], telehealth-based therapy is as effective as in-person therapy. It has the added benefit of providing access to people who live remotely, have constraints on their time to travel to appointments, or who have a medical condition that makes it inconvenient, difficult, and sometimes impossible to travel for appointments.”
Telehealth for Pregnancy — The Bottom Line
Telehealth services are especially beneficial for women who may have risky complications. It also helps women who work through their pregnancies or have small children. In the past, these factors often caused women to receive inadequate prenatal care. Other times, they became dependent on their partners and family members.
By relying on telehealth services, women, both those who are perfect and those who’ve just given birth — can reclaim some independence.