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Banner Health has announced a pilot program to increase access to obstetrical care for moms who are in labor in rural communities.
The OB telehealth project will ensure family physicians with obstetric privileges in rural areas can connect with a specialist whose sole focus is the care of women as they labor and deliver their newborns. The program began at Sterling Regional MedCenter on April 5 and allows physicians there to consult with OB/Gyn hospitalists at North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley 24/7/365. The consultations can take place over the phone between the two physicians, or they can bring a telehealth cart into the patient room to allow for a virtual three-way conversation and a visual connection.
“In rural areas, you might only have two family physicians who provide OB care,” said Blake McLaughlin, Banner OB/GYN. “If one of them is away, the other one is all alone.”
This program provides those physicians a connection in real-time with someone who specializes in inpatient obstetrics care. The added benefit of this program is that the OB/GYN hospitalist can access the patient’s medical record and see real-time information about the mom and baby’s health.
Expected outcomes of the program are a decreased need for medical interventions during birth (such as a c-section), and a decreased need to transfer the patient from the rural hospital to a larger hospital such as NCMC, Dr. McLaughlin said.
Dr. McLaughlin said the program will be a step in addressing the disparities in care for pregnant women in rural areas. Banner hopes to expand the program to other rural communities.
Headquartered in Arizona, Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns and operates 30 acute-care hospitals, Banner Health Network, Banner – University Medicine, academic and employed physician groups, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers, and an array of other services including Banner Urgent Care, family clinics, home care, and hospice services, pharmacies and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada, and Wyoming. For more information, visit BannerHealth.com.