Feasibility and safety of urgently initiated maternal telemedicine in response to the spread of COVID-19: A 1-month report

J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2020 Jul 20. doi: 10.1111/jog.14378. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Aim: In Hokkaido, Japan, the number of people suffering from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is rapidly increased, and by the end of February 2020, there were already 70 confirmed cases of the disease. We investigated the safety of urgently initiated maternal telemedicine in preventing the spread of the coronavirus infection.

Methods: This retrospective, single-institution study examined maternal telemedicine at the department of obstetrics of the Hokkaido University Hospital from March 4 to April 2, 2020. The physicians remotely examined the pregnant women from their homes using a visual communication system which kept communication confidential, performed prenatal checkup and administered medical care according to their various blood pressures, weights and cardiotocograms.

Results: Forty-four pregnant women received a total of 67 telemedicine interventions. Thirty-two pregnant women (73%) had complications, and 22 were primiparas (50%). Telemedicine interventions were provided 19 times at less than 26 weeks of gestation, 43 times between 26 and 36 weeks of gestation and 5 times after 37 weeks of gestation. There was one case with an abnormality diagnosed during the remote prenatal checkups, and the patient was hospitalized on the same day. However, there were no abnormal findings observed in mothers and children during the other 66 remote prenatal checkups and medical care.

Conclusion: Maternal telemedicine can be safely conducted in pregnant women who are at risk of having an underlying disorder or fetal abnormality 1 month following the start of the attempt. It should be considered as a form of maternal medical care to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; cardiotocograph; pregnancy; telemedicine.