By Angela Borchert, Suzanne Hopkins and Liz Madison, Vitals contributors
“Imagine harnessing the power of the collective wisdom of thousands who have delivered babies before to systematically personalize your care.”
What parent could turn that down?
All kidding—ahem—aside, navigating pregnancy is no easy feat for new parents-to-be. And as Dr. Albert Chan alluded to in his quote, new parents invite and welcome any information meant to support baby. But how does one distill all that information to what’s most meaningful to the individual?
Recently, Northern California’s Sutter Health launched Care Companion-Healthy Pregnancy, a mobile-based extension of their online patient portal, My Health Online (MHO). The app, which has 11,000 users to date, personalizes the pregnancy experience, offering patients helpful, digestible educational content and reminders week-by-week. The app modernizes the pregnancy journey for patients who often receive printed materials at their first prenatal appointment – much of which can be overwhelming.
“Care Companion is like a trusted, experienced friend who can guide you along your pregnancy journey,” said Dr. Chan, who is Sutter Health’s chief digital health officer.
Sutter’s innovative approach to creating a digital care plan for pregnancies was recently recognized by Epic in an abstract article, which highlights details on collaborative development of the pregnancy care plan using Epic’s MyChart Care Companion and key takeaways from the implementation.
A major part of developing Care Companion Healthy Pregnancy consisted of reviewing and customizing the educational content shown along the pregnancy journey. A clinical committee, headed by Dr. Veena Jones, medical director of digital health at Sutter Health, and made up of obstetric providers and nursing leadership, reviewed and enhanced existing content available from Epic. They also compared it to the existing education used at Sutter to make sure the app covered the most clinically important concepts. For example, they added educational topics about postpartum depression and incorporated resources about the support Sutter offers new parents.
In addition, when an expecting parent logs into Care Companion, they can start tracking their pregnancy and enroll in the care plan. Pregnant patients will receive steps to complete based on their gestational age – like taking a daily multivitamin. When a step is completed, the information populates into their patient record, which care team members can access as well. Their care team can provide additional support if needed.
Dr. Chan and Dr. Jones even used their personal experiences as parents and patients to help build the product.
“I remember having to pull together many different sources of information to help me track my pregnancy,” Dr. Jones said. “Our goal with this offering was to make life simpler for expecting parents by providing accessible and personalized guidance through an app with which they are already familiar.”
Building off of the healthy pregnancy care plan, the team is set to launch additional Care Companion plans for other areas. One of the most anticipated options is a version supporting patients undergoing total joint replacement.
“With more than 1.7 million active patients on our MHO patient portal, we see a lot of potential applications for this technology, especially in helping to manage chronic care conditions,” said PJ Rockey, a digital health project manager at Sutter Health. “We look forward to using Care Companion’s seamless integration to further simplify and personalize the patient care experience, while also empowering providers with new insights to help achieve better health outcomes.”
For more information, see the Care Companion-Healthy Pregnancy FAQs.