Whether it’s her first child or her fifth, the postpartum trip to the doctor can be a hassle for a mother. The UAMS Center for Distance Health has started a new program that will make that visit more convenient.
“Some of our patients travel a very long way to deliver here at UAMS,” said Nirvana Manning, M.D., an associate professor in the UAMS Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the UAMS College of Medicine.
“When they come here and have a baby, it’s often very cumbersome for them to travel back six weeks later for a postpartum visit.”
Recently, UAMS has been using telemedicine to make that visit easier for some patients. Women can visit with a doctor through a laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Nikki Talley had her postpartum visit from a sectional sofa inside her Sheridan home. While her newborn son, Levi, rested comfortably in her arms, she dialed in for her appointment with Manning.
“Are you feeling okay?”
“I’m feeling good. We’re pretty much back to our normal activities and getting acclimated to having three kids.”
The Talley family leads a busy life. Nikki Talley said it was a welcome relief to not have to dress Levi and his older brother and sister, load them into the car, and make the 45-minute drive to Little Rock.
During a virtual visit, Manning asks the mother questions about her overall health. She’s also able to call in prescriptions, if needed, and says it’s a good opportunity to talk about postpartum depression if a patient is having symptoms.
“If there is something that would require a face-to-face appointment, we schedule it at that time,” Manning said.
The program is still in its infancy, so providers are targeting women who are at low-risk for pregnancy complications to give them a chance to work out any issues.
Telemedicine was pioneered at UAMS starting in 2003 by Curtis Lowery, M.D., chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
“Technology has come so far. We’re fortunate to have Dr. Curtis Lowery working in our department. He’s been an innovator and leader in the telemedicine world,” Manning said.
Manning says there is room for growth with this program, including scheduling routine visits during pregnancy.