Telehealth for High-Risk Pregnancies in the Setting of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Am J Perinatol. 2020 Jun;37(8):800-808. doi: 10.1055/s-0040-1712121. Epub 2020 May 12.


As New York City became an international epicenter of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, telehealth was rapidly integrated into prenatal care at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, an academic hospital system in Manhattan. Goals of implementation were to consolidate in-person prenatal screening, surveillance, and examinations into fewer in-person visits while maintaining patient access to ongoing antenatal care and subspecialty consultations via telehealth virtual visits. The rationale for this change was to minimize patient travel and thus risk for COVID-19 exposure. Because a large portion of obstetric patients had underlying medical or fetal conditions placing them at increased risk for adverse outcomes, prenatal care telehealth regimens were tailored for increased surveillance and/or counseling. Based on the incorporation of telehealth into prenatal care for high-risk patients, specific recommendations are made for the following conditions, clinical scenarios, and services: (1) hypertensive disorders of pregnancy including preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, and chronic hypertension; (2) pregestational and gestational diabetes mellitus; (3) maternal cardiovascular disease; (4) maternal neurologic conditions; (5) history of preterm birth and poor obstetrical history including prior stillbirth; (6) fetal conditions such as intrauterine growth restriction, congenital anomalies, and multiple gestations including monochorionic placentation; (7) genetic counseling; (8) mental health services; (9) obstetric anesthesia consultations; and (10) postpartum care. While telehealth virtual visits do not fully replace in-person encounters during prenatal care, they do offer a means of reducing potential patient and provider exposure to COVID-19 while providing consolidated in-person testing and services. KEY POINTS: · Telehealth for prenatal care is feasible.. · Telehealth may reduce coronavirus exposure during prenatal care.. · Telehealth should be tailored for high risk prenatal patients..

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus / isolation & purification
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections* / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Genetic Counseling / methods
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration
  • Health Services Accessibility / trends
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / organization & administration*
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Pandemics* / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications* / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy, High-Risk*
  • Prenatal Care* / methods
  • Prenatal Care* / organization & administration
  • Prenatal Care* / trends
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods
  • Remote Consultation / methods
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Telemedicine* / instrumentation
  • Telemedicine* / methods
  • Telemedicine* / organization & administration

Grant support

Funding None.