Technology Creates Convenient Prenatal Care

Virtual OB allows a hard-working couple to experience pregnancy together.

Miya laughing with baby Clark and Landon

As a new mom-to-be in a technology-driven world, Miya Perkins, 35, was excited when she was asked to be a part of Henry Ford Health System's Virtual Prenatal Care pilot program. Ready to start a family, Miya and her boyfriend, Landon, tried for a year to get pregnant. In May of 2018, Miya got the happy news she was going to be a mom.

Working as part of Henry Ford Health System's Helios team, which supports the technology for the system's electronic medical record application, Miya knew that virtual care was being rolled out within Henry Ford, but wasn't aware it had spread to obstetrics. She learned more about the new program at her first OB/Gyn appointment and promptly signed up. "I felt that having the option to do my appointments virtually would make life much easier for me."

In the program, each mom is given a blood pressure cuff and a portable fetal Doppler, a hand-held device used to detect baby's heartbeat. This allows patients to do health check-ins at home through a video visit with one of several Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) who provide this convenient service, in place of an in-person meeting with their regular OB/GYN or midwife.

The convenience of being able to do some of her appointments virtually was a huge benefit, according to Miya. "I was able to schedule my visits before work so I could just wake up, go in the living room, have my visit, get dressed and go to work."

Creating a shared experience.

Aside from the convenience, sharing the experience with her boyfriend was another bonus for Miya. With different work schedules and the fact that Landon worked some distance away, he wouldn't have been able to join her for an in-person, in-office appointment. But he could easily observe her video sessions with the nurse midwife before he left for work in the morning. And Landon especially liked using the fetal Doppler to hear his growing baby's heartbeat.

"After he watched one of my video visits, he asked if he could try using the Doppler on my belly," Miya laughs. "Then there were days where I wouldn't even have a virtual appointment and he'd want to pull out the Doppler to just listen to her. It really helped us bond as we prepared for the baby."

As Miya's pregnancy progressed and her due date drew closer, one of the blood pressure readings she took just prior to one of her virtual visits was higher than normal. She mentioned it during the video chat to Mary Condon, CNM, who immediately asked Miya to measure it again, and found that it was even higher than the previous reading. The nurse midwife advised Miya to head to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with gestational hypertension, also known as pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. Thanks to the clues from the at-home blood pressure cuff and the fast action initiated during the real-time virtual prenatal checkup, Miya's blood pressure was managed and monitored, and her doctors at Henry Ford Hospital decided to induce delivery two weeks later.

Miya and Landon welcomed their beautiful baby girl, Clark, on January 17, 2019.

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