Elevating Patient Voices to Develop a Maternal Telehealth Model
Empowering Health Care Consumers
April 30, 2021
For NYSHealth, health equity is achieved when all people have the opportunities and resources they need to be as healthy as possible and no one is disadvantaged.
But in practice, patients—particularly people of color—are often marginalized rather than placed at the center of the health care system. Although all patients should be valued as partners, patients of color can face unique obstacles, including racism, bias, mistrust, and gaps in communication between patients and physicians. Engaging patients of color is an important step toward the development of a more equitable health system. To help ensure that patients’ priorities, preferences, and experiences guide efforts to create a more equitable health care system, NYSHealth issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), “Patients as Partners: Advancing Equity.” Through this RFP, NYSHealth is supporting projects that seek to implement system improvements, practice innovations, or interventions designed to give patients of color a meaningful role in their health care. In 2021, NYSHealth awarded Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership (NMPP) a grant to participate in this initiative.
Under this grant, NMPP will develop a sustainable model for maternal and child telehealth services focused on women of color, who are disproportionately affected by adverse pregnancy outcomes. Although telehealth is an innovative way to provide improved access to prenatal and perinatal care, it may be unavailable to lower-income women of color who lack necessary access, technology, or digital literacy. NMPP will create a patient-provider partnership to identify telehealth barriers and benefits for women of color and help reduce health disparities. It will form a patient council comprising participants from diverse backgrounds, including prenatal and perinatal women who are immigrants, Spanish- and French-speaking, adolescent, or in insecure housing. NMPP will partner with New York-Presbyterian Hospital to recruit patients without resources for virtual communication and equip them with devices and support for connecting online. The patient council will meet monthly for participants to discuss their experiences with telehealth and provide recommendations on making it more responsive to the needs of women of color. NMPP will also partner with New York-Presbyterian Hospital to train community health workers to support patients in navigating the telehealth services, and together they will co-develop best practices and a manual for maternal and child telehealth services. The University of Albany will analyze the data from the patient council and prepare a final report evaluating this patient-provider partnership. Findings will be disseminated broadly to encourage replication and tailoring by other health systems.