The U.S. has an abysmal record with maternal mortality. According to The Center for Disease Dynamics, Economic, & Policy (CDDEP), the U.S. has the worst maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births of all similarly developed countries. World Health Organization studies rank the U.S. in 55th place at 17.4 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births. A recent study of studies by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) suggests that telehealth for maternal health care may have a positive overall effect on outcomes.

The PCORI researchers performed a rapid review of 41 studies of maternal health care telehealth services published after 2015. The studies compared telehealth maternal care to traditional care delivery services for both prenatal and postpartum care. Telehealth care replaced usual care in 16 of the studies and supplemented traditional care in 25 of the studies that the team reviewed. The studies focused mainly mental health, general maternal care, and diabetes. Other studies measured the effectiveness of telehealth versus normal care for hypertension, breastfeeding, pregnancy-related weight gain, smoking cessation, and asthma.

The PCORI researchers found that outcomes from supplementing or replacing conventional maternal health care with telehealth services were similar or better than with normal care only. The greatest benefits were in mental health, general maternal care, and prenatal diabetes. Patients also reported greater satisfaction and had higher attendance rates with care that included telehealth.

Several areas of inquiry into maternal health care require further research, but the potential benefits of telehealth as adjunct or replacement care for conventional in-personal care could help turn the deadly trend of maternal mortality.