Growing momentum in prenatal technology highlighted at national midwifery meeting

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Since the 1930s, prenatal care for pregnant women has looked essentially the same: a series of 12 to 14 one-on-one midwife visits performed by a doctor or other healthcare provider in the office. As patients and healthcare systems become more complex, and as more people have smartphones and other technology, the time is ripe to rethink the perinatal care model, experts said at the annual meeting. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) In May.

One panel focused on larger issues in technology, while another discussed digital startups created for pregnant black women and women of color. Here is a summary of what they said, which may prompt journalists to pursue interesting stories.

A quarter of patients don’t get prenatal care in the first trimester, when doctors can intervene for any troubling signs, says Alex Peel, MD, an ob-gyn at the University of Michigan. There is a growing workload Maternity care “deserts” and rising rates of diabetes and mental health conditions, he said. In addition, social services may not meet people’s educational needs or the social support they seek. Worse, she noted, black and indigenous people, as well as those living on low incomes, are two to five times more likely to die in childbirth.

“Suffice it to say, we have a problem with the quality of prenatal care in the United States,” Peele said.

Technology-assisted prenatal care can help midwives and others better identify risk, she said. Automated intervention recommendations embedded in electronic health records can help ensure that physicians offer specific services to each patient, not just when they remember. Some are already built into hospital record systems like Epic, or clinicians can create their own checklists based on their unique patient population to make sure that when they manage a new symptom like high blood pressure, they don’t forget other routine tests that are needed. to finish.

Virtual visits can help connect patients to the services they need, allowing patients to connect with a provider anywhere at any time, Peel added. Providers can also use technology such as online depression screenings and remote blood pressure monitoring systems for prenatal testing to assess fetal well-being late in pregnancy. Digital packaging services can be added to provide education or case management. Online peer support groups can also help.

ACOG is in the midst of building a new, technology-enabled model of prenatal care that they hope to release later this year, Peel said. See ACOG to stay updated on this Prenatal Care Initiative Reorganization Website.

Pay critical attention to digital technology

There’s a misconception that only a certain segment of pregnant patients can benefit from the technology, says Adam Levkowitz, MD, PhD, of Brown University. She noted that pregnant women of childbearing age are the most technologically savvy demographic in the U.S., with smartphone owners and home broadband Internet access almost universal. “It’s not a question of whether patients can access digital health interventions, it’s a question of where they access it,” he said.

The lesson he gave to colleagues is also important for journalists. it is important to evaluate the credentials of a digital technology for pregnant women, such as an app, as very few are evidence-based. See who makes it for a hint. If there’s an ob-gyn or prenatal care provider behind it, it’s likely to be accurate, she said. However, patients crave short videos on Instagram or TikTok created by people who look like them or have similar experiences.

Tech startup companies for pregnant women of color

As non-Hispanic blacks experience the highest rates of maternal morbidity and mortality in the United States, a number of femtech companies have emerged to support them through perinatal care and pregnancy, another panel of ACOG experts said.

Many pregnancy-related health information apps that doctors recommended in the past simply provided information, while new technologies connect what a patient knows, does and experiences with what is done in clinics, said Audra Meadows, MD, MPH, MD. – oenologist. with the University of California, San Diego.

Panelists highlighted several companies, many of which were founded by black founders, listed here in alphabetical order. Journalists can find good stories by talking to some of the founders or users of these technologies, and doctors can use it to find out how or if user experiences can affect pregnancy and birth outcomes.

  • Children – A digital platform and app to provide reminders and checklists during the prenatal and postpartum stages, as well as a content library of information in English and Spanish. A blood pressure tracking tool for postpartum patients on the platform, which sends patient information to UC San Diego doctors, helps obstetricians better understand when intervention is needed, Meadows said.
  • Cayaba Care: – A digital platform that offers in-home personalized pregnancy support between OB visits, including maternity navigators to visit patients at home or virtually.
  • City block – A membership model program covered by insurance companies through which pregnant women can access medical, mental and social care wherever they are.
  • Imagine Solutions Technology – A digital platform with integrated medical devices, such as a handheld ultrasound device that connects to a mobile phone or tablet, and apps that track health trends and alert for abnormal values.
  • Health in His HUE – A digital platform that connects Black people and people of color with culturally competent, sensitive healthcare providers.
  • Thing: – An app providing reviews and ratings of pediatric doctors, hospitals, and pediatricians written by people of color. Information is available in English and Spanish.
  • May: – A digital platform and app that offers pregnancy and postpartum support, weekly health tracking, personalized lifestyle and care tips, and access to culturally competent experts.
  • Die – A membership platform offering support and services for pregnancy and postpartum care from registered nurses, doulas, lactation consultants, mental health coaches, nutritionists and care coordinators.
  • Maven – A digital platform and virtual care model that works with employers, health plans and individuals to offer services such as on-demand appointments, personalized educational content and a care advocate.
  • Momentum Park – A digital platform that offers services such as a prenatal program that focuses on the holistic prenatal needs of expectant parents and their newborns, and a program that brings baby supplies to families with newborns in the NICU.
  • Volomi – A digital platform and app with free and paid membership models that includes virtual group training and community discussions, referrals to culturally competent health experts, weekly tips and assessments, and more.


Experts in prenatal technology stories

    • Alex Peahl, MD, MSAssistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan
    • Adam Levkowitz, MDassistant professor of maternal-fetal medicine at Brown University in Providence, RI.
    • Sharon Thompson, MD, MPH, CEO of Central Phoenix Obstetrics and Gynecology;
    • Audra Meadows, MD, MPHAssociate Professor and Professor, Department of Culture and Justice, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Diego
    • Neil Shah, MD, Chief Medical Officer Maven Clinic in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    • Renaisa Anthony, MD, MPH, MD Founder Momentum Park
    • Courtney Williams, MBA, co-founder and CEO of Emagine Solutions Technology

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