Evaluation of rapid telehealth implementation for prenatal and postpartum care visits during the COVID-19 pandemic in an academic clinic in Springfield, Massachusetts, United States of America

Author Department

Ob/Gyn; Healthcare Quality

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Background and aims: COVID-19 forced healthcare systems to implement telehealth programs, facilitated in Massachusetts by a policy requiring insurers to reimburse for telehealth visits. Prior studies suggest that telehealth is effective for obstetric care, but little is known about its implementation in response to policy changes in underserved communities. We utilized the RE-AIM framework to evaluate telehealth implementation in a large academic urban obstetric practice that serves a medically underserved population.

Methods: RE-AIM elements were assessed through retrospective review of electronic health record (EHR) data for all obstetric encounters between March 19 and August 31, 2020 and review of clinic implementation processes. Data extracted included demographics, number and type (in-person or telehealth) of prenatal visits, prenatal diagnoses, delivery outcomes, and number and type of postpartum visits. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Results: A total of 558 patients (60.6% Hispanic; 13.2% primary language Spanish) had 1788 prenatal visits, of which 698 (39.0%) were telehealth visits. A total of 209 patients had 230 postpartum visits, of which 101 (48.3%) were telehealth visits. The Reach of the intervention increased from 0% of patients at baseline to 69% in August. Effectiveness measures were limited but suggested potential for earlier diagnosis of some prenatal conditions. Adoption was high, with all 30 providers using telehealth, and the telehealth was found to likely be feasible and acceptable based on uptake. Increases in the percentage of telehealth visits over time and continuation post-lockdown suggested maintenance was potentially achievable.

Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic has changed traditional approaches to healthcare delivery. We demonstrate that the use of the RE-AIM framework can be effective in facilitating implementation of telephone visits in a large academic urban obstetric practice after state-level policy change. This may be of particular importance in settings serving patients at higher risk for maternal morbidity and poor birth outcomes.

Keywords: healthcare policy; implementation analysis; postpartum care; prenatal care; telehealth.