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Telemedicine Helps New Mothers Monitor Health

April 14th, 2020

Some pregnancy-related conditions cause high blood pressure, putting pregnant women and new mothers at risk for heart disease. While the prenatal period involves multiple check-ups that include routine blood pressure monitoring, the frequency of doctor visits often drops dramatically following birth, and many women miss scheduled postpartum visits. The University of Pittsburgh and Magee Women’s Research Institute studied the use of telemedicine to help monitor blood pressure remotely and found that it shows promise as a tool to improve postpartum health. 

The study enrolled 499 women diagnosed with a high blood pressure disorder and trained them to use an automated blood pressure cuff. Following discharge from the hospital, participants received phone calls from a nursing call center prompting them to take and report their blood pressure and heart rate daily via text messages. The messaging system was connected to the electronic health record, giving the nursing call center staff the ability to determine if any medical intervention was needed. Readings resulted in prompts for medication changes or visits to the clinic or emergency room, depending on severity. In a follow-up survey completed by 250 participants, 82% said they felt more comfortable knowing that a nurse was checking on their health regularly, and 94% reported satisfaction with the program.

Lead author of the study Alisse Hauspurg, MD, a University of Pittsburgh professor and researcher, feels this patient-centered approach is empowering: “Home blood pressure monitoring gives patients ownership. They’re texting their numbers in,” Hauspurg said. “Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy impact women for the rest of their lives, so to have ownership over their own health is really important. We’re empowering them to know their numbers.”