New Orleans-based Ochsner Medical Center has launched its own take on Apple's "Genius Bar" where prenatal patients can pick up free gadgets to help monitor their health at home—and potentially reduce unnecessary in-person office visits.
How Apple inspired the Connected MOMs program
After first meeting with an obstetrician and agreeing to participate, patients who enroll in Ochsner's Connected Maternity Online Monitoring (MOM) program visit hospital's "O Bar," which is modeled after the Apple Genius Bar—complete with iPads, airy spaces, minimalist stools, and a full-time technology specialist.
At the O Bar, patients pick up medical technology they can use to track their health at home—free of charge. The tools available include medical weight scales, wireless blood pressure cuffs, activity trackers, and dip sticks and cups for measuring.
Lisette Hatamian signed up for the service when she was expecting a baby last fall. Hatamian said she used the devices, which were synced to her iPhone (although the devices also work with Android) to track her weight and blood pressure a throughout her pregnancy. If she forgot to record a reading, her iPhone would remind her.
Once Hatamian performed the readings, the devices sent the readings to Apple's HealthKit app. Next, her data was automatically sent to Ochsner's EHR system, where it could be accessed and evaluated regularly by providers. If a reading showed abnormal results, a doctor would follow up with her.
Since Hatamian's readings were mostly normal throughout her pregnancy, she was allowed to skip a few appointments instead of coming to the doctor's office each week, she said.
The hospital also suspects the program may help clinicians identify signs of preeclampsia in pregnant patients—though that hypothesis needs more testing.
Ochsner's vision for the future of at-home care
Overall, the Connected MOM program represents another step toward convenient, and possibly less expensive, at-home care for patients, Farr reports. "We're realizing that we can keep tabs on our patients using technology at a higher frequency than we would in a purely analog world," Milani said.
Further, the Connected MOM program has reduced in-person doctor's visits by 25% to 30% for participating patients, according to Richard Milani, chief clinical transformation officer for Ochsner. For patients, particularly those who've been pregnant before, it's a relief not to have to go into the doctor's office for as many appointments, Farr reports (Farr, CNBC, 3/4).
Access the new telehealth primer on pregnancy care
Telehealth has great potential to enhance pregnancy care for women with both high-risk and low-risk pregnancies. By offering pregnant women new and more convenient ways to connect with OB providers, telehealth can increase patient access to specialty care, improve birth outcomes, and enhance patient experience.
Read the primer to learn more about how pregnancy care providers are implementing these tools in their practice, as well as the trends that are driving adoption of these services and the business case for offering them.