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Virtual care has existed for more than a decade, but many patients were reluctant to try it until the COVID-19 pandemic made a trip to the doctor’s office seem risky. Now that patients have seen how convenient and cost-effective virtual care can be, it’s likely they will continue to use it. In addition to medical care, virtual care is also available for behavioral health and even dental care.
Cigna is now partnering with Wildflower Health™ (Wildflower) and Women’s Health CT (WHCT) to offer virtual care and remote monitoring for maternity care in Connecticut. The mobile app-based service is available to women with high risk pregnancies who are enrolled in Cigna's Healthy Pregnancies Healthy Babies® program. A high risk pregnancy could include a number of factors, such as high blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy, depression, abnormalities in the placenta or fetus, previous preterm delivery, or multiple gestation (twins, triplets).
As part of the service, moms will be provided with a Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure cuff, fetal Doppler (for listening to baby’s heartbeat) and other equipment, in addition to the mobile app, that will enable their doctors to observe mom and baby remotely and determine if any intervention is needed.
“The idea is to help make maternity care simpler and more convenient for our customers,” said Dr. Jeffrey Langsam, Cigna's medical executive for Connecticut. “And with more frequent monitoring we hope to decrease complications.”
Leah Sparks, founder and CEO of Wildflower, Cigna's technology partner for the initiative, sees virtual maternity care as an important step that advances value-based care through collaboration. “This program smartly uses technology and data to inform decisions, identify risks and deeply connect patients to the right support at the right time,” Sparks said.
Using technology this way improves the quality and continuity of care, according to Dr. Matthew Saidel, chief medical officer of Women’s Health Connecticut and Women’s Health USA. “Now we can connect with moms throughout their pregnancy, and they also have a resource for carefully curated information that comes from their provider rather than randomly from the internet,” Dr. Saidel said.
Cigna's Dr. Langsam noted that virtual care and remote monitoring can also lead to lower medical costs. “If we’re able keep mom and baby healthy, and reduce emergency room visits, hospitalizations and NICU admissions, that can help keep down the family’s cost of care. Healthier moms, healthier babies, lower cost of care, improved peace of mind – that’s a terrific set of outcomes.”