The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet it ranks 57th in infant mortality with 5.87 deaths in the first year per 1,000 live births. This can be attribute to a variety of different factors. However, one of the main reasons the US has such a high infant mortality rate compared to other developed nations is the disparity of care that exists for low-income mothers.
For disadvantaged women living in rural areas, a way to address the issue would be through the application of telemedicine; remote providers would be able to help monitor pre-natal care and assess or address problems that may arise early on. One case study in Alaska proved effective in increasing access to services for women and their families in hard-to-reach and isolated areas – which can be vital for infant mortality prevention.
While there are clear advantages for having an in-person evaluation for prenatal care (physical examination, ultrasound imaging, lab tests, etc.), the ability to have telemedicine “check-in” visits between in-person visits could provide parents with restricted access to medical care an alternative to foregoing care all together.
While this is still an early application, using telemedicine in prenatal care is a promising and innovative solution for address disparities in care such as this.