During the first months of the pandemic, many healthcare providers pivoted to telehealth appointments as way to limit potential exposure to COVID-19, including obstetricians and gynecologists caring for pregnant patients. But a new study in JAMA Network Open shows most patients chose in-person visits from June to December 2020 out of personal preference, despite the availability of telehealth.
The study was based on data collected from the 2020 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) across 29 states or localities. Participants completed a survey about their healthcare access in 2020.
70% of patients chose in-person care
A total of 12,073 respondents gave birth between June and December 2020 and were asked if they used prenatal telehealth. If they did not, they were asked to supply a reason why. Of the 12,073 respondents, 7,686 said they never used prenatal telehealth, and 4,387 said they did.
Those in rural areas were less likely to use prenatal telehealth than urban respondent.
Seventy percent of those who did not use telehealth said they did so based on personal preference to be seen in person during pregnancy. Twenty-six percent said telehealth visits were not offered in their clinic, and 5% said there were technical barriers to accessing the services.
"Compared with respondents with private insurance, those with Medicaid had no adjusted difference in prenatal telehealth use, but uninsured respondents were 14.6 percentage points less likely to use prenatal telehealth," the authors wrote. "Those in rural areas were less likely to use prenatal telehealth than urban respondents."