Changing Our (Virtual) Reality: Telehealth and the United States Maternal Health Crisis

The United States is in the midst of a Maternal Health Crisis impacting thousands of women and birthing persons around the country. In fact, despite the fact that many U.S.residents have access to advanced resources and community support, there has been an uptick in the number of pregnancy-related deaths in the last three years. These numbers are even higher among older birth parents and Black people. 

These statistics do not have to be the norm. It is estimated that more than two-thirds of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Recent legislation indicates that telehealth and digital technologies could play a crucial role in addressing this health emergency. A multi-pronged approach is required to confront factors such as veterans status, housing security, environmental factors, mental health, and other systemic issues that contribute to the elevated rates of maternal morbidities and mortalities. 

Changing Our (Virtual) Reality: Telehealth and the United States Maternal Health Crisis examines the history of maternal health and wellness, focusing on community, state, and federal efforts to identify and address factors that contribute to morbidity and mortality. Among these there is special focus on the role that digital communities and telehealth technologies play in reaching and educating practitioners, patients, and their loved ones. 

The report concludes with a focus on state and local level telehealth initiatives in California, Georgia, and Indiana implemented to address the unique regional needs of birthing persons in their communities. 

It is important to take the following into consideration when it comes to the significant role that telehealth plays in eradicating the United States’ maternal health crises: 

  • Cultural competency and practices must be taken into account when providing telehealth across communities. 
  • It is important to continually assess the effectiveness and individual experiences with telehealth technology. 
  • Digital access and literacy are critical to ensure that telehealth remains a viable option for patients nationwide. 
  • Advocates at all levels should work to eliminate barriers to telehealth. 
  • Researchers should consistently conduct studies that help address the evolving and unique needs of the prenatal and postpartum population. 

Read Changing Our (Virtual) Reality: Telehealth and the US Maternal Crisis here. Next Century Cities will host an author’s talk with Brittany-Rae to discuss the report, telehealth, and maternal health on Monday, October 17, 2022 from 11:00 to 11:30 a.m. Register for the conversation here. To learn more about this topic, see the federal resources below: 

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