According to the CDC, 85 million people have been vaccinated from COVID-19 in the United States. While the fight is still not over for this pandemic, vulnerable patients are still at risk for acquiring this deadly virus.
Many health care industries paved their way to improve health care in the digital age. The rise of Teleconsult and remote patient monitoring are becoming more inevitable as it promotes more engagement among patients and health care providers. Will pregnant patients benefit from RPM as well?
Originally intended for chronic patients, telehealth has expanded its services to more specialties in medicine. Pregnant patients, included in the vulnerable population, are placed with so many challenges among health care providers. Despite efforts to improve maternal well-being, pregnant women still do not regularly attend medical follow-ups.
Pregnant Patients and Check-Ups
Being pregnant in this unprecedented time has caused more anxiety, especially to first-time mothers and expecting mothers with comorbidities such as hypertension and diabetes. Health care models continue to innovate and improve on optimizing patient services while minimizing COVID-19 exposure.
For a healthy pregnancy, regular prenatal check-ups are advised every month during the 4th to 28th week of pregnancy. From the 28th to the 36th week, doctors recommend one prenatal check-up every two weeks. Furthermore, one prenatal visit is required per week for the 36th to 40th week of pregnancy. Monitoring is different among patients who have more comorbidities and should be individualized by health care providers. But generally have more check-ups than their healthy counterparts. One prenatal visit is required per week for the 36th to 40th week. Monitoring is different among patients who have more comorbidities and should be individualized by health care providers. But generally, they have more check-ups than their healthy counterparts.
Three Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring Among Pregnant Patients
1. Virtual Check-ups
In the traditional clinical setting, follow-ups from HCPs require scheduled appointments to the doctors. Sometimes, walk-in patients are welcomed. When the pandemic hit, the workload in hospitals took a tremendous toll in caring for sick patients.
The number of patients arriving at the doctor’s clinic became limited, and patients have restrained their time with doctors in the hopes of trying to limit possible exposure to the virus. This situation has created a barrier and contributed to fewer regular check-ups with their doctors.
Telehealth made innovations by providing virtual check-ups for pregnant patients. Contrary to the belief that RPM is only for tech-savvy patients, most patients respond well to telehealth by giving fewer hassles of scheduling appointments with doctors. Both health care providers and pregnant patients are saved from acquiring potential infections by limiting exposure to diseases. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends maximizing telehealth services to maintain prenatal and postpartum care access during the COVID-19 pandemic. Expanded access to telehealth modalities like remote patient monitoring and durable medical equipment should be considered for broad-scale and long-term implementation beyond this pandemic.
2. Complication Prevention
As a medical doctor, the best thing about remote patient monitoring is preventing complications brought about by pregnancy-related diseases. Preeclampsia caused by hypertension has an incidence of 5% in the United States alone. With regular BP monitoring, HCPs will be alerted of potential risks brought about by uncontrolled blood pressure. Pregnant patients can be remotely monitored to control their weight and improve their diet. Prevention of complications with regular remote patient monitoring will lead to lesser hospital admissions, which will be more economical.
3. Anxiety Relief
While more studies are emerging regarding the effectiveness of RPM, more prenatal classes have been offered by health care providers, in addition to breathing classes and online community groups, which have immensely helped mothers reduce anxiety. Working mothers and mothers caring for older children will have less burden of leaving work for a prenatal check-up. RPM is more significant than the monitors they provide. Knowing that someone will be happy to assist you with your pregnancy journey will be of big help even if you are confined at home.
Will RPM be here to stay even if the pandemic is gone?
Mothers can attend their postpartum check-ups through teleconsults and remote patient monitoring. RPM is a health care model designed for long-term conditions. More patient satisfaction is expected from health care providers because with continuous assistance, remote patients are more empowered to improve health conditions. After the pandemic, our current “new normal setup” of integrating technology with hospitals will remain and become the future of the health industry.
While specific laboratory tests such as urinalysis and ultrasound imaging are done at a clinic, the future leans on having a more holistic approach for pregnant patients where scheduled check-ups will be more optimized to save time, money and limit exposure to diseases