The early postpartum period is a critical time. While the period has a huge impact on the health of both mothers and newborns, healthcare professionals dedicate less attention to it than the prenatal and childbirth periods.
On Thursday, Mayo Clinic announced it was teaming up with San Francisco-based digital health platform Memora Health to address this issue. The partners are piloting a new texting-based program to improve the health of Mayo’s postpartum patients, and they have entered a research collaboration to measure the model’s efficacy.
The collaboration is designed to increase postpartum patients’ engagement between visits without increasing the burden on maternal care teams through automated text messaging.
Memora’s texting-based program will send messages to postpartum mothers to help guide them through the six weeks following the birth of their child — sometimes referred to as the fourth trimester. The automated messages will send them reminders about how to take care of postpartum complications, such as sore breasts, vaginal tears or a C-section wound. Symptom screening text messages will be sent as well, so that complications are caught before an adverse event occurs.
The program will also send patients links to educational information about how to best care for their newborn and their post-childbirth body, according to Memora CEO Manav Sevak.
“It’s almost like holding their hand through the entire process and care plan that they’re going through,” Sevak said in an interview. “It’s conversational so patients can respond to the messages and ask questions.”
Since most people use text messaging daily, Sevak believes the program’s texting-first approach is an effective way to support postpartum patients outside the four walls of a hospital or clinic. The program will also deploy email and phone-based messages to reach patients who may not have access to texting or prefer another mode of communication.
“Because there aren’t a ton of resources that exist for moms, there’s so many different challenges that exist as a result of that,” Sevak said. “Postpartum depression rates are extremely high in this country. And it’s challenging to identify moms who are struggling with some sorts of comorbidities — it’s challenging to figure out exactly what symptoms they have that are preventable or if they’re struggling with bleeding or something like that.”
To Sevak, it’s imperative that Memora and Mayo work together to closely track the impact of this initiative. They are working to validate the model and determine whether it can prevent postpartum patients from remaining so underserved, he said.
Memora and Mayo will be tracking some key metrics in order to measure the program’s impact. They will first look at how many patients were identified as having postpartum depression — diagnosing this issue in the six weeks following birth often means that it can get treated sooner and not become as severe, according to Sevak.
The research partners will also track how many symptoms they flag among patients participating in the program, such as excess bleeding or ongoing body pain. They will analyze this data to see if drawing attention to these symptoms early on was able to create a reduction in emergency department or urgent care visits for postpartum complications, Sevak said.
When analyzing the model, Memora and Mayo will also assess how patients felt about the program. They will look at metrics such as engagement rates, how many messages patients responded to and if the program affected patients’ adherence to follow-up visits.
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