UPMC hospital uses remote patient monitoring for postpartum women

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Pittsburgh’s Magee-Womens Hospital has implemented a post-discharge remote patient monitoring program for new mothers focused on managing hypertension, a common cause of readmissions.

The hospital, part of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center health system, has targeted at-risk new mothers to keep high blood pressure under control.

As part of the home monitoring program, hypertensive women discharged from the hospital are provided with an automatic blood pressure cuff and instructions on how to take their own readings using the equipment over a six-week period.

“We’re asking them to send us their blood pressures every day,” says Beth Quinn, program director for women’s health services at UPMC-Magee. “This has not been done anywhere that we’re aware of in the country.”

The readings, blood pressure and pulse as well as other information, are entered into the patients’ electronic health record.

Vivify Health’s remote care platform is leveraged by Magee-Womens Hospital to enable discharged mothers to take their blood pressure daily for five days—or more frequently if they’ve had an abnormal reading—and use their own smartphones to text the readings to a call center staffed by nurses, who can escalate the patient case to a clinician if a problem is identified.

“During that first week—when they’re at a higher risk—if we see their blood pressure starting to creep up or if they’re having any symptoms, we’re able to start them on medication remotely without them having to come into the emergency department or get readmitted to the hospital,” adds Quinn.

Overall, 43 percent of new mothers who started the remote hypertension-monitoring program had their one-week follow-ups canceled because of their readings being normal. And of those who had dangerously high readings, 83 percent decided to continue the program beyond the initial three-week postpartum period, and 74 percent remained in the program for four weeks or more.

In addition, as a result of the program, Quinn contends that Magee-Womens Hospital has seen a dramatic increase in new mother with hypertension keeping their postpartum appointments at four to six weeks. She notes that while the national average to attend postpartum appointments is 60 percent, UPMC has a 90 percent success rate.

Further, Quinn says that 40 percent of the women in the program are making and keeping appointments with their primary care physicians, rather than just relying on their obstetricians for care.

In 2020, UPMC plans to implement the program at two other hospitals—UPMC Horizon and UPMC Northwest. “The plan is to eventually roll out to all 15 of UPMC’s hospitals,” concludes Quinn.

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