Telehealth Use in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Retrospective Study of Prenatal Care.


Telehealth is an alternative care delivery model to in-person care. It uses electronic information and telecommunication technologies to provide remote clinical care to patients, especially those living in rural areas that lack sufficient access to health care services. Like other areas of care affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of telehealth has increased in prenatal care. This study reports on telehealth use in prenatal care at a large academic medical center in Middle Tennessee, USA. We examine the electronic health records of over 2500 women to characterize 1) the volume of prenatal visits participating in telehealth, 2) disparities in obstetric patients using telehealth, and 3) the impact of telehealth use on obstetric outcomes, including duration of intrapartum hospital stays, preterm birth, Cesarean rate, and newborn birthweight. Our results show that telehealth mainly was used in the second and third trimesters, especially for consulting services. In addition, we found that certain demographics correlated with lower telehealth utilization, including patients who were under 26 years old, were Black and/or Hispanic, were on a state-sponsored health insurance program, and those who lived in urban areas. Furthermore, no significant differences were found on preterm birth and Cesarean between the patients who used telehealth in their prenatal care and those who did not.