Healthcare News & Views

How Digital Care Journeys for Maternity Care Provide Better Healthcare for Mothers and Babies

May 9, 2023
By
Tracy Staniland

In the U.S. the maternal mortality rate soared 40% during the pandemic. More than 1,200 women in the U.S. died of complications arising from pregnancy or childbirth in 2021, a 40% jump from 2020, according to data recently related by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That amounts to 32.9 deaths for every 100,000 live births. 

New data recently released by The United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) shows major setbacks for maternal health. In nearly all regions of the world, mortality rates either increased or stagnated. In Europe and North America, the maternal mortality rate increased by 17%, according to the U.N. and WHO data. 

Over the past year, obstetric units have closed in New Hampshire, New York, Delaware, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Wyoming, and other states — creating maternity care deserts. According to a recent Vox Report, this wave of closures has been building for years. At least 7 million women of childbearing age live in these deserts - counties with no obstetrics unit and no birth center. 

Several factors can lead to a high-risk pregnancy, including maternal age, pregnancy history, presence of multiples, lifestyle factors, and underlying health conditions – yet there are currently not enough OB-GYNs in the U.S. to meet patient needs. In fact, over 10 million women live in counties lacking OB-GYN care. This shortage and lack of access impacts rural women the most, with over half living more than 30 minutes from a hospital with perinatal services. 

With a decline in the availability of these wards and services, hospitals and expectant moms are seeking digital alternatives that support maternal health while offering greater convenience and efficiency along with more comprehensive, competent care. Technology advancements represent an opportunity to transform and standardize care for those who need it most. 

Improving the Quadruple Aim for Maternal Care

For first time moms, pregnancy can be scary as it involves dramatic physiologic changes. Many of these changes result in signs and symptoms that can make it more challenging to distinguish normal discomforts of pregnancy or postpartum from changes that would be concerning in a nonpregnant adult. The adoption of a digital care platform can drastically improve maternity care by expanding access to care and providing a wealth of information from a trusted source - ultimately streamlining the labor and delivery process, while providing the new mother with step-by-step guidance for a successful experience before, during, and after pregnancy.

Digital platforms empower physicians, nurses, midwives, mothers, and babies by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of delivering patient education, patient tracking, and reporting, and they extend care to underserved areas. 

For health systems striving to achieve the quadruple aim for maternity care, digital platforms improve patient outcomes and the overall patient experience, lower costs and reduce burden for the clinician experience. Like a virtual care companion, digital platforms self guide expectant moms through their personalized care journey and care teams have access to real-time dashboards to remotely monitor their progress, get alerted to intervene sooner if needed and leverage insights to improve care. They achieve high patient engagement and improve healthcare outcomes through simple, action-oriented, personalized, and accessible education tailored to the health systems’ maternity care protocols. With access to education materials in the palm of their hand expectant moms feel less anxious and feel more connected to their care team. Tech-savvy moms are seeking out care management tools that enable them to play an active role in their care. 

Let’s examine four characteristics of digital platforms that are revolutionizing how obstetrics and maternal care is being delivered today.  

  1. Interactive Timely Perinatal and Postpartum Education

Digital care journey platforms provide several benefits as it relates to improving the efficacy of a maternity care program. Firstly, the platform provides an expert-approved educational library for patients, so that they veer away from turning to “Dr. Google” to address concerns they might have. The educational information they receive covers prenatal and postpartum reviewed content directly from their own OB - a highly trusted source throughout the duration of their maternity care journey. 

Giving expectant moms access to interactive education in the palm of their hand ensures that they have a good experience throughout their entire pregnancy, keeps them well informed and educates them on the signs and symptoms to expect without them waiting for a doctor. 

For first time pregnancies, there are a lot of unknowns. Giving expectant moms access to digital education outlining what to expect each trimester significantly reduces their anxiety. Throughout the pregnancy journey, digital patient engagement solutions enable care teams to deliver personalized just in time education on what they can expect throughout the trimesters including things like breastfeeding, what emotions they can expect to feel, physical changes, fetal growth and development, nutrition needs, exercise, labor and delivery, as well as information on prenatal classes and postpartum care. 

  1. Remote Monitoring

Digital tools with remote monitoring capabilities have been proven to improve the patient experience, shorten hospital length of stay, and lower direct patient costs. Care teams who deploy digital care journey platforms expand access to expectant moms in rural areas, who work from home, who are caregivers, who are experiencing high-risk pregnancies or have other children at home. Rural patients or patients who reside in maternity care deserts can receive pre- and post- care information from the comfort of their home. Digital care journeys essentially act as a virtual companion providing patients with access to their healthcare providers and to pregnancy and postpartum trackers that prompt patients with dynamic questions throughout each trimester and during recovery to monitor weight gain, blood pressure, GI problems, signs of preterm labor, and more. Allowing care teams to monitor expectant moms between prenatal appointments, track warning signs for postpartum complications, breastfeeding rates, and prevent unnecessary ED visits. 

“For the obstetric service line, we were envisioning a continuation of that type of journey but with more of a regular care companion that can provide instructions and patient-reported outcomes without really needing a face-to-face interaction,”  explained Ben Chao, ‍President, CareConnect, MultiCare Health System which uses a digital care journey platform for maternity care.

Face-to-face interactions can be time-consuming for clinicians especially given the time spent on delivering manual patient education, often paper-based booklets which get lost or misforgotten, taking impromptu phone calls, and the follow ups required over a long episode of care like pregnancy. 

An aging workforce is also a contributor to the availability of staff to conduct in-person prenatal appointments. According to a 2021 report from consulting firm Mercer, by 2026, 21% of family medicine, pediatric, and obstetrics and gynecology physicians—or about 32,000 doctors—will be 65 or older. Mercer experts also anticipate about 23,000 physicians will leave the profession permanently.

Health systems who have deployed digital care solutions have reported an increase in productivity by augmenting the delivery of care, thereby doing more with less, freeing up physicians and clinical staff, and eliminating burnout. A hybrid approach to prenatal care delivery includes the assistance of interactive patient education,  virtual health checks, and remote monitoring through digital health solutions thereby reducing the number of face-to-face interactions needed for expectant mothers with minimal medical conditions or complications. Through this hybrid approach patients have access to support materials and their care teams if needed while care teams receive alerts and monitor patients via dashboards. 

  1. Streamline Labour and Delivery

Digital platforms for maternal care have the potential to be widely used in improving maternal well-being by guiding expectant moms throughout the entire pregnancy journey including labor and delivery by providing signs of labor and instructions for vaginal delivery, Cesarean section, and pre-eclampsia. For patients undergoing a C-section, evidence-based content is provided during prenatal, delivery, and post-partum to improve Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) compliance for Cesarean deliveries to reduce complications, support shorter hospital stays and a safer transition from hospital to home after surgery. With Cesarean deliveries making up nearly one-third of deliveries performed each year there is an opportunity through the use of digital patient engagement solutions to improve the experience and outcomes for those who have c-sections. Patient education plays an important role in the recovery outcomes of each patient.

  1. Postpartum Journey

For many moms coping through the postpartum journey this can be an extremely trying time in their life, they can feel overwhelmed especially for new moms who are now taking care of an infant for the first time, they typically feel tired and anxious, and eating routines and sleeping patterns are upended. Knowing what to expect and coping with postpartum can be overwhelming. With access to an always-on virtual care companion, moms don’t feel alone. They continue to receive education on what to expect after delivery, breastfeeding instructions like how to store breastmilk and how to prepare formula, reminders, nutrition recommendations, etc. Engagement at this level makes a significant difference in helping care teams monitor for serious postpartum complications such as DVT, hemorrhaging, and blood pressure disorders and identify who needs extra support. As patients are encouraged to track their progress through prompts and surveys through the platform, this can help detect problems earlier. For example, postpartum mood disorders can be tracked and treated sooner rather than later. 

Healthcare organizations like Michael Garron Hospital’s Family Birthing Centre deployed SeamlessMD, to provide an interactive digital education tool that guides patients step-by-step through their postpartum healthcare journey with reminders, notifications and surveys. The platform keeps patients highly engaged during the postpartum period to make sure they have the high touch support they need to cope with healing at home with a newborn. 

In summary

As financial pressures and changing consumer expectations continue to affect the healthcare landscape, care teams who adopt digital health solutions can optimize the maternal experience, improve clinical outcomes, reduce staff burden, and lower costs. 

Imagine a world where every expectant mom has access to a digital care management solution that is there for them 24/7 through their entire pregnancy journey – before, during and after. Digital solutions that provide remote monitoring can deliver virtual care and offer a critical safety net for women.

Interested in learning more?

Book a personalized demo to see how our Digital Care Journey platform for maternity care enables care teams to virtually engage, connect and monitor patients throughout pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum recovery. 

How Digital Care Journeys for Maternity Care Provide Better Healthcare for Mothers and Babies

Posted by:
Tracy Staniland
on
May 9, 2023

In the U.S. the maternal mortality rate soared 40% during the pandemic. More than 1,200 women in the U.S. died of complications arising from pregnancy or childbirth in 2021, a 40% jump from 2020, according to data recently related by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That amounts to 32.9 deaths for every 100,000 live births. 

New data recently released by The United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) shows major setbacks for maternal health. In nearly all regions of the world, mortality rates either increased or stagnated. In Europe and North America, the maternal mortality rate increased by 17%, according to the U.N. and WHO data. 

Over the past year, obstetric units have closed in New Hampshire, New York, Delaware, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Wyoming, and other states — creating maternity care deserts. According to a recent Vox Report, this wave of closures has been building for years. At least 7 million women of childbearing age live in these deserts - counties with no obstetrics unit and no birth center. 

Several factors can lead to a high-risk pregnancy, including maternal age, pregnancy history, presence of multiples, lifestyle factors, and underlying health conditions – yet there are currently not enough OB-GYNs in the U.S. to meet patient needs. In fact, over 10 million women live in counties lacking OB-GYN care. This shortage and lack of access impacts rural women the most, with over half living more than 30 minutes from a hospital with perinatal services. 

With a decline in the availability of these wards and services, hospitals and expectant moms are seeking digital alternatives that support maternal health while offering greater convenience and efficiency along with more comprehensive, competent care. Technology advancements represent an opportunity to transform and standardize care for those who need it most. 

Improving the Quadruple Aim for Maternal Care

For first time moms, pregnancy can be scary as it involves dramatic physiologic changes. Many of these changes result in signs and symptoms that can make it more challenging to distinguish normal discomforts of pregnancy or postpartum from changes that would be concerning in a nonpregnant adult. The adoption of a digital care platform can drastically improve maternity care by expanding access to care and providing a wealth of information from a trusted source - ultimately streamlining the labor and delivery process, while providing the new mother with step-by-step guidance for a successful experience before, during, and after pregnancy.

Digital platforms empower physicians, nurses, midwives, mothers, and babies by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of delivering patient education, patient tracking, and reporting, and they extend care to underserved areas. 

For health systems striving to achieve the quadruple aim for maternity care, digital platforms improve patient outcomes and the overall patient experience, lower costs and reduce burden for the clinician experience. Like a virtual care companion, digital platforms self guide expectant moms through their personalized care journey and care teams have access to real-time dashboards to remotely monitor their progress, get alerted to intervene sooner if needed and leverage insights to improve care. They achieve high patient engagement and improve healthcare outcomes through simple, action-oriented, personalized, and accessible education tailored to the health systems’ maternity care protocols. With access to education materials in the palm of their hand expectant moms feel less anxious and feel more connected to their care team. Tech-savvy moms are seeking out care management tools that enable them to play an active role in their care. 

Let’s examine four characteristics of digital platforms that are revolutionizing how obstetrics and maternal care is being delivered today.  

  1. Interactive Timely Perinatal and Postpartum Education

Digital care journey platforms provide several benefits as it relates to improving the efficacy of a maternity care program. Firstly, the platform provides an expert-approved educational library for patients, so that they veer away from turning to “Dr. Google” to address concerns they might have. The educational information they receive covers prenatal and postpartum reviewed content directly from their own OB - a highly trusted source throughout the duration of their maternity care journey. 

Giving expectant moms access to interactive education in the palm of their hand ensures that they have a good experience throughout their entire pregnancy, keeps them well informed and educates them on the signs and symptoms to expect without them waiting for a doctor. 

For first time pregnancies, there are a lot of unknowns. Giving expectant moms access to digital education outlining what to expect each trimester significantly reduces their anxiety. Throughout the pregnancy journey, digital patient engagement solutions enable care teams to deliver personalized just in time education on what they can expect throughout the trimesters including things like breastfeeding, what emotions they can expect to feel, physical changes, fetal growth and development, nutrition needs, exercise, labor and delivery, as well as information on prenatal classes and postpartum care. 

  1. Remote Monitoring

Digital tools with remote monitoring capabilities have been proven to improve the patient experience, shorten hospital length of stay, and lower direct patient costs. Care teams who deploy digital care journey platforms expand access to expectant moms in rural areas, who work from home, who are caregivers, who are experiencing high-risk pregnancies or have other children at home. Rural patients or patients who reside in maternity care deserts can receive pre- and post- care information from the comfort of their home. Digital care journeys essentially act as a virtual companion providing patients with access to their healthcare providers and to pregnancy and postpartum trackers that prompt patients with dynamic questions throughout each trimester and during recovery to monitor weight gain, blood pressure, GI problems, signs of preterm labor, and more. Allowing care teams to monitor expectant moms between prenatal appointments, track warning signs for postpartum complications, breastfeeding rates, and prevent unnecessary ED visits. 

“For the obstetric service line, we were envisioning a continuation of that type of journey but with more of a regular care companion that can provide instructions and patient-reported outcomes without really needing a face-to-face interaction,”  explained Ben Chao, ‍President, CareConnect, MultiCare Health System which uses a digital care journey platform for maternity care.

Face-to-face interactions can be time-consuming for clinicians especially given the time spent on delivering manual patient education, often paper-based booklets which get lost or misforgotten, taking impromptu phone calls, and the follow ups required over a long episode of care like pregnancy. 

An aging workforce is also a contributor to the availability of staff to conduct in-person prenatal appointments. According to a 2021 report from consulting firm Mercer, by 2026, 21% of family medicine, pediatric, and obstetrics and gynecology physicians—or about 32,000 doctors—will be 65 or older. Mercer experts also anticipate about 23,000 physicians will leave the profession permanently.

Health systems who have deployed digital care solutions have reported an increase in productivity by augmenting the delivery of care, thereby doing more with less, freeing up physicians and clinical staff, and eliminating burnout. A hybrid approach to prenatal care delivery includes the assistance of interactive patient education,  virtual health checks, and remote monitoring through digital health solutions thereby reducing the number of face-to-face interactions needed for expectant mothers with minimal medical conditions or complications. Through this hybrid approach patients have access to support materials and their care teams if needed while care teams receive alerts and monitor patients via dashboards. 

  1. Streamline Labour and Delivery

Digital platforms for maternal care have the potential to be widely used in improving maternal well-being by guiding expectant moms throughout the entire pregnancy journey including labor and delivery by providing signs of labor and instructions for vaginal delivery, Cesarean section, and pre-eclampsia. For patients undergoing a C-section, evidence-based content is provided during prenatal, delivery, and post-partum to improve Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) compliance for Cesarean deliveries to reduce complications, support shorter hospital stays and a safer transition from hospital to home after surgery. With Cesarean deliveries making up nearly one-third of deliveries performed each year there is an opportunity through the use of digital patient engagement solutions to improve the experience and outcomes for those who have c-sections. Patient education plays an important role in the recovery outcomes of each patient.

  1. Postpartum Journey

For many moms coping through the postpartum journey this can be an extremely trying time in their life, they can feel overwhelmed especially for new moms who are now taking care of an infant for the first time, they typically feel tired and anxious, and eating routines and sleeping patterns are upended. Knowing what to expect and coping with postpartum can be overwhelming. With access to an always-on virtual care companion, moms don’t feel alone. They continue to receive education on what to expect after delivery, breastfeeding instructions like how to store breastmilk and how to prepare formula, reminders, nutrition recommendations, etc. Engagement at this level makes a significant difference in helping care teams monitor for serious postpartum complications such as DVT, hemorrhaging, and blood pressure disorders and identify who needs extra support. As patients are encouraged to track their progress through prompts and surveys through the platform, this can help detect problems earlier. For example, postpartum mood disorders can be tracked and treated sooner rather than later. 

Healthcare organizations like Michael Garron Hospital’s Family Birthing Centre deployed SeamlessMD, to provide an interactive digital education tool that guides patients step-by-step through their postpartum healthcare journey with reminders, notifications and surveys. The platform keeps patients highly engaged during the postpartum period to make sure they have the high touch support they need to cope with healing at home with a newborn. 

In summary

As financial pressures and changing consumer expectations continue to affect the healthcare landscape, care teams who adopt digital health solutions can optimize the maternal experience, improve clinical outcomes, reduce staff burden, and lower costs. 

Imagine a world where every expectant mom has access to a digital care management solution that is there for them 24/7 through their entire pregnancy journey – before, during and after. Digital solutions that provide remote monitoring can deliver virtual care and offer a critical safety net for women.

Interested in learning more?

Book a personalized demo to see how our Digital Care Journey platform for maternity care enables care teams to virtually engage, connect and monitor patients throughout pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum recovery. 

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