“Maternal care is about so much more than a physical check-up. Ensuring that parents know how to access support isn’t just imperative for their health but the health of their baby too.” - Forbes contributor Alice Broster on our new research
Even before the pandemic, at the start of 2020, patient telemedicine adoption was up 33% compared to the year prior and in the early months of the pandemic, half of all patients turned to telehealth to replace a non-emergency in-person appointment. In Maven’s virtual clinic, from March to May, we saw a 300% increase in telehealth appointment bookings—and utilization still remains elevated.
So, what does this mean for the future of pregnancy care? And, more importantly, is the shift to virtual care—as a complement to necessary in-person visits—what patients want?
Finding out what patients want: Our survey of 1,000 pregnant people
To answer these questions, we surveyed 1,000 pregnant people about their preferences for care, how they use telehealth, where there are gaps in their access to specialists or to support, and what has shifted during the pandemic.
Our research reveals key trends around telehealth adoption, convenience, access to specialists, the need for mental health support, birth planning, and more. It provides an understanding of what patients are looking for in their care and support during pregnancy, what has changed because of the current crisis, and helps identify key gaps we can address through a better model of care delivery.
It also points to why our founder and CEO Kate Ryder set out to build Maven more than six years ago, and the ways we’ve been iterating and improving our programs: to set a new standard of care for women and families with a patient-centered, integrated, virtual care model.
Here are 6 key findings and what they tell us about pregnancy care.
Here’s what we heard from patients, and the core takeaways we’ve identified for better pregnancy care delivery—now and in the future.
1. Meet pregnant women where they are: 78% of pregnant women have used telehealth services during a pregnancy, and they’re using telehealth for an average of 4 appointments.
The trends show that they are comfortable with telehealth—with 67% having had at least three telehealth visits during their current pregnancy. These include consultations with physicians, nurse practitioners, or specialists over video, phone, or messaging.
What this tells us: Pregnant women are active telehealth users, turning to virtual care as a complement to in-person prenatal visits.
2. Convenient, on-demand care is key: 73% of pregnant women surveyed expect telehealth appointments to happen within a day.
And 31% of pregnant women want telehealth appointments to occur within one hour.
They also want appointments to fit within their schedules, at times that are most convenient for them.
What this tells us: Pregnant women like telehealth because it’s on-demand, convenient, and requires less of their time than typical in-person appointments. That’s where Maven’s on-demand telehealth network for families makes all the difference: we have specialists available 24/7, and our average wait-time to see a provider or specialist is 27 minutes.
“During my pregnancy and as a new mom, Maven has made me feel so much more secure—knowing that if there’s anything at all I have questions about, within 24 hours, I will be able to talk to an expert. It’s incredible to be able to meet with a doctor, get treatment, and have immediate access.”
- Donna, Maven member
3. Specialized care matters: The majority of pregnant women surveyed would like telehealth access to specialists as well as OB-GYNs and Pediatricians.
If unlimited, free access to telehealth was available both during and after pregnancy, approximately half of those surveyed would be interested in appointments with OB-GYNs (56%) and Pediatricians (48%), but significant numbers would also be interested in specialists like:
- Lactation consultants (42%)
- Mental health providers (36%)
- Infant sleep coaches (35%)
- Parenting coaches (34%)
- Midwives (33%)
What this tells us: Access to specialists should be integrated within pregnancy and postpartum care delivery, as we know that there’s heightened demand to meet the unique and diverse needs that pregnant people and new parents face. Through virtual care, there’s an opportunity to fill critical gaps in access to providers, and make finding and connecting to the right specialists at the right time far less fragmented and hard.
“I’ve met with many different experts on Maven: pediatricians, a physical therapist, a nutritionist, a lactation consultant, a sleep coach, and a return-to-work coach. They’ve all shown professionalism and caring for whatever my situation is. Many of the video appointments have helped me answer questions or address urgent issues like bottle rejection, and filter advice from friends and family to find what actually works for me.”
- Julia, Maven member
4. Mental health support is a critical missing piece within the current standard of pregnancy care: 40% of pregnant women say they have experienced mental health issues and were screened for them, while an additional 20% say they experienced mental health issues but were not screened.
The remaining 40% reported that they have not experienced mental health issues during their pregnancy.
This trend of most women experiencing mental health issues during pregnancy is consistent across first time and multiple pregnancies, according to our research.
What’s more, women say they are not receiving adequate mental health treatment: 35% of women who have been diagnosed with a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder say they have received partial treatment or no treatment at all.
What this tells us: As Forbes put it in their coverage of our survey, “mental health support has been missing for pregnant people throughout the pandemic.” Mental health support should be integrated during pregnancy care. While up to 1 in 5 women experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (or PMADs), they are the most underdiagnosed, untreated, and common complication of childbirth—associated with poor overall healthcare outcomes for new mothers and babies, which can drive up healthcare costs.
On Maven, specialized mental health providers are a core part of every pregnant and postpartum member’s care team, and their Care Advocate reminds them to book an appointment with mental health providers at critical moments in their journey.
“When I finally admitted just how much I was struggling with prenatal depression in my third trimester, my mom was on the next flight out. Shortly after, I connected with a wonderful Maven mental health specialist who validated my experience and helped me feel heard.”
- Richelle, Maven member
5. Birth planning is more likely among telehealth users: Nearly 2 in 5 pregnant women surveyed have not prepared a birth plan.
But, they’re more likely to have a birth plan if they’re using telehealth: 71% of those who have used telehealth services for their current pregnancy have prepared a birth plan.
What this tells us: These findings suggest that access to telehealth may play a role in birth planning. We know that telehealth enables birth education, which may be contributing to this trend. Relatedly, telehealth helps patients get additional time with knowledgeable practitioners—going back to points above around how telehealth improves access to specialists, including doulas, midwives, OB-GYNs, and other experts who often work with pregnant people to prepare birth plans. Importantly, clinical studies suggest that when pregnant women are provided birth planning education, it can help improve outcomes, including the potential to lower C-section rates.
6. COVID-19 is making pregnant people consider more major life changes on top of this period of significant change.
Here’s what our research tells us:
- Many pregnant women are contemplating major life changes in response to COVID-19, such as seriously considering working exclusively from home going forward (45%) and only using family members for childcare (38%)
- Nearly one-third of pregnant women are seriously considering not returning to their job (29%)
What this tells us: Uncertainty will only continue, meaning pregnant women will need more flexibility and convenience through their care. Pregnancy is full of uncertainty and change, and the current crisis is only exacerbating that. As our research shows, pregnant women are considering making major changes, which is consistent with what we’re hearing from members. This means they need more support, a reliable platform, compassionate care and education, and flexibility.
“When I joined Maven, just around the beginning of COVID-19, I was six-and-a-half months pregnant and going through a big change. We had made the decision to leave our home and live with my in-laws, and that was extremely difficult. I really felt like I was abandoning my resources, my plan, my doctor at a time that was most critical. The experts I met with on Maven at that time—OB-GYNs, doulas, physical therapists, nutritionists—helped me make plans and feel more comfortable. In a time of transition when nothing is consistent, being able to have consistent access to care on Maven is a great comfort and a huge help.”
- Kaitlin, Maven member
Want to learn more about pregnancy and COVID-19? Read one member’s story of how Maven provided care and support during her pregnancy in the early months of COVID-19.
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