Portable Remote Presence for Point-of-Care Prenatal Assessment
Rationale: Decrease maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality at childbirth in poor hard-to-reach populations.
Approach: To use a novel portable remote presence device for point-of-care prenatal assessments and education in remote communities of the Bolivian Andes. The device provides real time video conferencing and transmission of diagnostic-quality data from portable ultrasound and digital stethoscope using cellphone signals. Rapid-diagnostic tests for infectious diseases and blood/urine chemistry will also be used. Obstetricians in the capital La Paz will work with local nurses/midwives and be remotely present for the assessments. A medical record/manual with algorithms for care and triage will be the standard. The device was tested in the region using existing local cellphone networks and found to be highly effective for data transmission without signal disruption.
Objective and Impact: To demonstrate the proof of principle that remote presence comprehensive prenatal care in isolated communities is feasible and scalable. Our aim is not to disrupt cultural practices for childbirth but provide access to life-saving expertise, in real time, when needed. Remote presence technology to deliver prenatal care to vulnerable populations has the potential to save lives at birth and its applications beyond maternal and newborn health may help narrow the gap of inequality for health care access in the world.
Innovation: Use of dedicated mobile remote presence technology to leverage local skills and existing cellphone networks to provide women in regions of the world that lack prenatal services with life-saving prenatal care.