Known as Northwell Health Pregnancy Chats, a newly released chatbot at Northwell Health aims to lower morbidity and mortality rates among pregnant women by using artificial intelligence (AI)-based technology and virtual care resources.
The largest healthcare provider in New York State, Northwell Health comprises 21 hospitals, around 900 facilities, and over 12,000 affiliated physicians. It treats more than 2 million patients on an annual basis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 861 women died from maternal causes in the US in 2020, higher than the 754 reported in 2019. Maternal mortality rates are far higher for women of color, with Black women experiencing maternal death rates of 55.3 deaths per 100,000 lives, which is 2.9 times the rate for White women. The press release also noted that about 26 out of 100,000 women die during childbirth in the US.
“Far too many pregnant and birthing people in this country suffer harm or even die because of problems that are entirely preventable. Northwell is committed to doing whatever is necessary to reduce those risks,” said Dawnette Lewis, MD, director of the Center for Maternal Health at Northwell, in a press release. “By bringing together high-tech innovation and high-touch clinical care, the Northwell Health Pregnancy Chats will help keep women and babies safe.”
Northwell Health created Northwell Health Pregnancy Chats to educate patients, identify urgent concerns, and, if need be, direct patients to an emergency department. Through the AI-powered chats, patients can access health risk assessments, blood pressure tracking, prenatal testing, birth plans, and lactation support. The tool is geared toward those who are pregnant or in the first year postpartum. The press release also noted that Northwell Health Pregnancy Chats was created in partnership with Conversa Heath, an automated virtual health provider.
Researchers determined the tool’s efficacy after conducting a pilot program, during which 1,632 patients used the chatbot. Of the users, 96 percent reported satisfaction with the tool. Not only that, but the system was also able to identify urgent health issues in many users.
“Northwell Health Pregnancy Chats are both extremely comprehensive and highly individualized and are designed to complement the interactions patients have with their providers,” said Michael Nimaroff, MD, senior vice president of Northwell’s OB/GYN service line and chair of obstetrics and gynecology for North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center, in the press release. “It’s a way to ensure women are never without support, whether they’re in a doctor’s office or in their own home.”
Virtual care modalities are increasingly being applied to maternal care.
For instance, in August 2022, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan created a virtual maternity care program in partnership with Maven Clinic. The program leveraged a digital family health platform with a digital care app. It provided three services related to family building, maternity, and parenting and pediatrics.
Another effort in October 2022 involved Avera Health aiming to improve maternal care outcomes and rural healthcare access through telehealth and remote patient monitoring. This effort was established after Avera received federal Health Resources and Services Administration funding. The health system also noted that it intended to use this funding to develop research practices to determine obstetrics needs in South Dakota.
Source: mHealth Intelligence