How Birmingham OB/GYN is Caring for Pregnant Patients During the COVID-19 Outbreak

OB/GYN talking to pregnant mom

The COVID-19 outbreak has changed everything for expectant mothers. In-person baby showers have been canceled. Families are no longer allowed in some delivery rooms. And nursery furniture is stuck in warehouses. Even prenatal care check-ups have been affected.

But the doctors at Birmingham OB/GYN aren’t letting shelter-in-place ordinances and social distancing guidelines keep them from giving their patients proper care. Like many doctors, they’re turning to virtual solutions.

One tool Birmingham OB/GYN is using is Babyscripts, a mobile app that allows health care providers to offer care, information, and remote patient monitoring to expectant mothers.

“Approximately 87 percent of our OB patients register for the Babyscripts app,” says Dr. Shannon Ellis of Birmingham OB/GYN.

The health care providers at Birmingham OB/GYN have been using Babyscripts since February 2019. They were looking to reduce paper use. But they also wanted a way to better orient new OB patients and get important information to patients quickly. Now, Babyscripts is helping them care for patients even in the face of a global pandemic.

Dr. Ellis says pregnant patients at Birmingham OB/GYN often use Babyscripts for information on medications during pregnancy, genetics, exercise, weight gain, signs of labor and more. She says patients love the quick and easy access to educational content.

“Telehealth is another tool the Birmingham OB/Gyn physicians are using to assist our patients during this time,” Dr. Ellis says. With Telehealth “visits” patients will check weight, blood pressure, and fetal heart tones to review with their doctor from home.

“We are providing patients that prefer this option with guidance on this equipment and can even provide them with fetal dopplers,” Dr. Ellis says. “We are also utilizing Telehealth for postpartum visits to limit risk of exposure to women and their newborns during this critical period.”

Important Changes for In-Office Visits

Pregnant patients, however, are still welcome to come into the Birmingham OB/GYN offices for their appointments.

“We feel that it is important to maintain a high level of care for our pregnant patients and are trying to limit disruption to their regularly scheduled prenatal visits,” Dr. Ellis says.

To limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19, the teams at Birmingham OB/GYN have made several important changes.

They’ve limited in-office visits to prenatal and emergent gynecologic appointments only. This cuts down the number of patients and staff on site. They’ve also revamped the check-in process and waiting room to minimize close contact with other patients.

However, with the help of Telehealth and tools like Babyscripts, pregnant patients can get quality care with fewer in-office visits. Furthermore, several insurance carriers have relaxed restrictions on telehealth during the COVID-19 crisis.

Dr. Ellis says, “We are happy to answer any questions or concerns that our patients have during this uncertain time and can do this via telephone or video discussion to keep them safe at home.”

Responses

  1. Thank you for interviewing Dr. Ellis she is great….. As first time mother with numerous questions she answered each and everyone. It is great to have physician that cares about her patients like their family..

  2. I like the idea of the “telehealth” I live in GA and it is so strange going into the office for just those routine visits… I’d much prefer to just stay home.

  3. I like the use of technology in this clinic, but I wish there was more guidance from OB/Peds as to how things change when baby arrives. When is is ok to allow family to meet baby? Is it necessary for essential workers to wear masks around baby until a certain age? I’ve come to accept all the things that have been restricted during pregnancy, but as the weeks come to an end, I continue to wonder what I should do to protect my baby when he/she arrives in this crazy world.

  4. I have never heard of this technology before! Today I had my first prenatal visit where my husband was not allowed o come in with me, it was heart breaking but necessary for the safety of others. I will have to mention this technology to my OBGYN to see if they have anything like this in place!! 

  5. I’ve heard from some of my pregnant friends that they are having virtual appointments. I had been wondering how they were doing it but it could be with Telehealth. This is a good option to have.

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