Perinatal Telehealth: Meeting Patients Where They Are.

Publication date: Aug 29, 2023

Prior to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, studies of innovative telehealth perinatal care models showed similar clinical outcomes and perceived quality of care between groups receiving a combination of virtual video and in-person visits. However, these studies included primarily White, English-speaking participants, excluding those who were economically disenfranchised or did not speak English. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe perinatal patients’ and providers’ experiences with telehealth during and after the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic to inform future utilization of telehealth to drive the delivery of high-quality, accessible, and equitable perinatal care to diverse communities. This descriptive qualitative study included a purposive sample of 14 patients and 17 providers who received or provided perinatal care via telehealth in either a certified nurse-midwifery practice or the nurse-family partnership care model between March 2020 and April 2022. Maximum variation sampling offered a diverse population based on race, ethnicity, and rurality. Researchers conducted 2 rounds of semistructured interviews with a focus on understanding social and geographic context. Six themes were identified through inductive analysis: (1) unexpected advantages of telehealth, (2) patient empowerment, (3) providers’ fear of adverse outcomes, (4) concern for equitable care, (5) strategies to enhance the telehealth experience, and (6) strategies to address access to perinatal telehealth. Patients appreciated the increased ease and reduced cost of accessing visits, which led to fewer missed appointments. Health care providers saw great opportunity in telehealth but expressed concerns about accessibility for patients with language barriers or limited resources. This study provides insight into priorities for continued telehealth utilization focused on providing equitable access to perinatal care. Rather than returning to practices from before the COVID-19 pandemic formed from longstanding routines and perceived limitations, providers are encouraged to capitalize on the rapid innovations in telehealth to build a more effective, equitable, and patient-centered approach to perinatal care.

Concepts Keywords
Coronavirus health care disparity
English health equity
Midwifery innovation diffusion
Models midwifery
Race postpartum depression
postpartum period
prenatal care
qualitative research
rural health


Type Source Name
disease MESH coronavirus disease 2019
disease IDO quality
disease VO population
disease VO effective
disease VO Equity
disease MESH postpartum depression

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