Providence’s High Risk Pregnancy Clinic has expanded telehealth services to pregnant patients in North Idaho.
Telehealth can be especially important for pregnant women whose stress from a troubling ultrasound may negatively impact the fetus, said clinic physician Dr. Douglas Barber. Rather than waiting for an appointment in Spokane, that pregnant patient may get clarity from telehealth much faster.
A pregnant person will be referred to the High Risk Pregnancy Clinic either when they have a pre-existing medical condition making them more susceptible to a high risk pregnancy or an ultrasound taken by an OB-GYN flags an anomaly potentially dangerous for the fetus or parent.
When these warning signs are found by a patient’s OB-GYN, it can often be highly distressing to the parents if they must wait several weeks to be seen by the High Risk Pregnancy Clinic. The use of telehealth can significantly cut down on that waiting time, Barber said.
“When someone finds out something’s wrong with their baby, and they are referred to a doctor in a few weeks to talk about, it’s really stressful very quickly and creates a lot of lag in the system,” he said. “One of the benefits to pregnant women with telehealth is they can have much more direct access to us almost immediately.”
When an ultrasound is taken elsewhere and is transmitted to the High Risk Pregnancy Clinic, Barber and his colleagues can typically meet with the patient virtually the same day.
The Providence clinic already provides telehealth services to Providence partners in Portland and Moses Lake. They will now provide telehealth services at Northwest Specialty Hospital in North Idaho.
A private, physician owned hospital in Coeur d’Alene, Providence patients will go to Northwest Specialty Hospital for their ultrasound and imaging tools to aid in the telehealth services with the High Risk Pregnancy Clinic.
“At Northwest Specialty Hospital, our North Star is serving our community. This partnership is a major step in continuing our mission of providing value-based care, which aims for high-quality health outcomes at a more affordable cost for our community,” said Northwest Specialty Hospital CEO Rick Rasmussen said in a statement.
Barber called Northwest Specialty Hospital a “very strong partner” helping Providence provide care to their patients.
“We have gotten a lot of feedback about patients in Idaho and in northern Idaho, that they really like to have access to sub specialists within their region. And even though I know Spokane is close, it can be a long ways for a lot of patients,” he said.
The telehealth services are available to current Providence patients and others who may not have access elsewhere.
Being treated at the High Risk Pregnancy Clinic in-person or via telehealth requires a referral from an OB-GYN. Women may want to seek these services early in their pregnancy if they have a pre-existing condition like type 1 diabetes, high blood pressure, genetic diseases or are over the age of 35.