Nobody can deny that prenatal care in the United States has seen vast improvements over time, but it’s also gotten increasingly complicated. Prenatal care now involves a complex regimen of 12 to 14 clinic appointments throughout the entire pregnancy, which can be time consuming and costly. Now, as NPR reported, women with low-risk pregnancies may be able to see their doctor less, thanks to new technology.
For many, regular clinic appointments stood as an additional stress factor when attempting to balance lost wages or personal days, additional childcare costs, and etc. It became absurd to expect pregnant woman to continue taking time off work when doctors had previously determined there were very little risks in their pregnancy. These regular appointments are also a burden to health care organizations, who have to plan for clinic time, nursing support, and medical resource, as noted by NPR.
In 2011, the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology launched an initiative to tackle this problem and now its solution is in practice. Two members of the group, Yvonne Tobah and Abimbola Famuyide, published an article in Harvard Business Review, where they stated the initiative was developed to “transform prenatal care from this medicalized model to an innovative wellness model”.
The result was OB Nest, which allowed women with low-risk pregnancies to reduce the number of in-person visits from the usual 12-14 to eight overall, according to Harvard Business Review.
A big reason for the regular prenatal visits is to allow doctors to track weight, blood pressure, and fetal heart rate throughout the pregnancy. All of these are important, so OB Nest didn’t call for those measurements to be greatly reduced throughout a pregnancy. Instead, patients are trained to use equipment, provided by the clinic, that allows them to track all of this at home. The information is then given to OB Nest nurses by phone.
An obvious concern here is that technology in one’s own home may be nice, but it could prove isolating, especially if a mother had concerns. In addition to…