Being an expectant mother is often thankless, expensive, and hectic. The journey from conception to birth can feel like it consists of little more than uncomfortable mornings, swollen ankles, and endless doctor visits. Or at least that’s how it may have felt before the advent of OB Nest, a thoughtful new approach to prenatal care for tech-savvy moms.
From week one to week 28, expectant mothers may be asked to visit the doctor once every four weeks, then every two weeks until week 36, and every week after that for up to 40 weeks. That’s more than two weeks of missed work, lost pay, and possible child-care costs. And those are the numbers for low-risk pregnancies.
A group at the Mayo Clinic led by the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology set out to change the prenatal wellness methodology and lower the number of doctor visits from 15 to fewer than eight. Their study resulted in a new form of prenatal care, a system of technological advancements called OB Nest, which enables mothers to track their wellness from home. Patients are given monitoring equipment to track the baby’s heart rate and the mother’s blood pressure. Expectant moms are trained how to properly use the medical devices and how to relay information to their nurses by phone. Further, parents are given access to an online community available only to OB Nest patients, in which they are free to discuss their questions with peers and registered nurses who are monitoring the site. These same nurses are present during prenatal care appointments and are available by telephone and through social media.
Though this approach is only recommended for mothers who are considered to have low-risk pregnancies, the benefits to those who can participate are abundant. Fewer doctor visits may translate to saved income for moms, more time with extended family, and less stress while commuting to and from the hospital. While busy moms-to-be may see this as a boon, busy doctors and nurses are also elated at the time-saving implications of the new technology. As noted by the Harvard Business Review, healthcare organizations will benefit from the advancement as women with low-risk pregnancies will no longer have to unnecessarily utilize costly medical resources, including obstetric providers, clinic time, and nursing support.
An unforeseen benefit of the new technology could be a decrease in the number of ultrasounds taking place in hospitals nationwide. A study by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) found that ultrasounds are recommended up to twice as often as they are actually medically necessary. Though ultrasounds are exciting for new parents, the procedure is costly and the long-term effects of multiple ultrasounds are not well studied. OB Nest helps to eliminate needless medical exams and may help decrease the financial burden on both parents and hospitals as the technology becomes more widely accepted.
Featured Image courtesy of Flickr user Raele Gutierrez
by Patricia Miller