Perinatal telehealth services is theoretically aligned with these policy goals:
A review of the experimental evidence on telehealth interventions in the prenatal-to-3 period suggests that telehealth services can produce clinical outcomes equivalent to, and in some cases better than, in-person health care. Some telehealth interventions may also contribute to reducing racial disparities in birth outcomes between Black and White mothers. However, evidence is mixed for whether technological enhancements to traditional, in-person care offer significant additional value when compared to traditional care alone. More causal evidence is needed to understand how state telehealth policies affect access to health care, particularly among rural and underserved populations and in the prenatal-to-3 period. Available evidence on the impact of state-level telehealth policy is correlational and does not allow for causal conclusions.
Telehealth refers to the use of technology to deliver or enhance health care services or medical training in a remote setting. Telehealth can include the use of audio, video, at-home monitoring devices, and other tools to allow patients to consult with providers and transmit clinical data when separated from providers by distance or when facing other barriers limiting in-person care. In the prenatal-to-3 period, telehealth has been effectively used to support healthy pregnancy behaviors and to promote positive birth outcomes by connecting parents more efficiently to providers in between scheduled prenatal visits and through postpartum follow-up services, such as breastfeeding education through a telelactation consultant. States have the ability to make telehealth services more or less accessible through policies determining which services can be delivered through telehealth, which telehealth services can be reimbursed through Medicaid, whether telehealth must be reimbursed at levels equivalent to in-person services (parity laws), and which providers can offer telehealth services, among other key policy levers. Given the expansion of telehealth ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic, states’ telehealth policies may have increasingly significant ramifications for prenatal-to-3 outcomes in future years.
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Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center. (2021). Prenatal-to-3 policy clearinghouse evidence review: Perinatal telehealth services (ER 21B.1021). Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University. http://pn3policy.org/policy-clearinghouse/perinatal-telehealth-servies
Updated October 2021