5 Benefits of Virtual Healthcare for Pregnancy
Prenatal care is just a phone call away!
- Virtual healthcare can be used instead of in-person care for some pregnancy visits
- It saves time and money, and it can help reduce stress
- More and more providers are starting to offer this model of care
In the past few years, the healthcare system has seen vast amounts of shifts and innovations. But nowhere has that been more noticeable than within the telehealth space. “Telehealth” is getting healthcare over the computer or phone. It is a combination of the words “telephone” and “healthcare.” Recently, more telehealth has taken place via video calls.
Virtual healthcare has taken off
Telehealth was once considered very niche and often not worth the cost for providers. Today, virtual care has quickly become a main way many people receive healthcare services in the US. Telehealth has helped diagnose common illnesses like the cold and flu, and monitor chronic conditions. It has proven to be a way to bring better, more accessible care to millions of people.
Many aspects of pregnancy and postpartum care can be done via virtual appointments. On average, pregnant people can expect to attend around 14 prenatal appointments. With telehealth, you could potentially take six of those visits from the comfort of your home. In tandem with in-person visits, telehealth appointments can be an excellent addition to your prenatal and postpartum care.
Most telehealth visits are less than the cost of an in-person visit. Even if a telehealth appointment costs the same as an in-person appointment, you’ll save money on transportation and childcare.
Still, many pregnant people and new parents don’t realize telehealth is available and affordable. In February 2020, only 0.1% of pregnancy-related care appointments were done virtually. That number has gone up since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, but telehealth is still underused in pregnancy care. Virtual healthcare might sound unusual or less helpful if you’re pregnant. In truth, it can be a great way to receive better care. We’ve broken down the top benefits of telehealth for pregnancy and postpartum care.
Top benefits of virtual care
Telehealth is a great alternative to in-person care for most people, both during and after pregnancy. If you’re wondering whether virtual healthcare is right for you, here are some of the biggest benefits you can expect.
1. Telehealth is more affordable
Healthcare costs vary depending on factors like where you live and your level of insurance coverage. The average cost of a single visit with an OB/GYN ranges from $90 to more than $500. Most telehealth visits are less than the cost of an in-person visit. Even if a telehealth appointment costs the same as an in-person appointment (but it usually doesn’t), you’ll save money on transportation and childcare. When you’re already dealing with the cost of preparing for your baby, telehealth can offer a more cost-effective way to get the care you need before, during, and after pregnancy.
2. Telehealth saves you time
Virtual appointments can save you a lot of valuable time. For in-person visits, you have to travel to an office, wait for your doctor, and drive back. With telehealth, you can simply join a call from your smartphone or computer. What’s more, many telehealth providers offer flexible, same-day appointments. This flexibility can reduce a lot of stress, especially if you work a full-time job or multiple part-time jobs. In some cases, not having to ask off work can also save you money if you don’t get paid time off.
3. Virtual healthcare is more accessible
One of the biggest barriers to in-person care is lack of accessibility. Rural areas often lack access to hospitals. Driving or finding transportation can take several hours. Virtual healthcare eliminates the need to arrange and pay for transportation. All you need is a good internet connection and a phone or computer.
It can also be hard to find specialists in rural areas. Maternal-fetal medicine doctors are OBs with extra training. They often work with high-risk pregnancies. Telemedicine allows patients and their primary care providers to have a direct line of communication with these specialists. The specialists can recommend care plans and review ultrasounds without requiring the client to come in for every conversation.
4. You don’t need to worry about cost of childcare
Another cost-related benefit of telehealth is that expectant parents who already have children don’t need to pay for a babysitter or childcare. If your prenatal care involves a dozen or more visits over the course of your pregnancy, those savings can add up.
5. Telehealth provides better postpartum support
Another important but often overlooked part of perinatal care is postpartum support. Postpartum visits are a vital piece of healthcare. ACOG recommends new parents have their first postpartum visit 3 weeks after delivery. However, most new parents don’t see their provider until 6 weeks after delivery. 40% of new parents never see their provider after delivery.
Telehealth platforms and apps can help address this gap in care. Virtual care helps patients communicate with their care team through text, phone, and video. These virtual visits can provide help with chest/breastfeeding, postpartum recovery, and broader social and emotional support.
40% of new parents never see their provider after delivery. Telehealth platforms and apps can better address this gap in care.
Is telehealth right for you?
Every person’s healthcare needs are unique. Telehealth might feel like a great approach for many, but it’s not the right option for every pregnant person. There can be technical barriers to this care, including lack of reliable internet connection.
Some people also think they don’t connect with their provider as well over the phone or computer. High-risk pregnancies that involve lots of monitoring and tests cannot be done virtually. There are many reasons to choose in-person care, including simply personal preference.
However, virtual healthcare during pregnancy is used to supplement in-person care. It will never replace it. Even one or two virtual visits out of a dozen saves time and money and may reduce stress.
A better overall experience
Traditionally, if you wanted to speak to your doctor, you had to make an appointment and wait to see them in person. Telehealth platforms can bridge that communication gap. Patients can email, text, and speak directly with their providers without having to wait weeks for an opening. Telehealth platforms often offer helpful resources, including appointment reminders and guides to Medicaid benefits. They may even provide general educational materials on pregnancy.
Telehealth can be a helpful way to save money and time. You can also get quicker appointments and advice, which is especially calming during pregnancy. Above all, you’ll get the same quality care from your provider.