The maternal mortality crisis in the United States is particularly acute for women of color. Black and American Indian women are two to three times more likely to experience worse maternal health outcomes than white women. Increasingly, structural racism has been recognized as a key driver of maternal health disparities and inequities. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, health systems,including perinatal services and support providers, have been forced to rely on telehealth, or the remote provision of care through telecommunications technology, to reach their clients. This has resulted in remarkable ingenuity, rapid reimbursement changes, and important experiences that can inform telehealth’s role in maternity and postpartum care going forward. At the same time, it has raised critical questions regarding how to ensure equitable access and the provision of high-quality virtual care.
For this brief, part of a larger series on the pandemic and maternal health equity, we reviewed the literature and conducted in-depth interviews to explore what promising maternal care telehealth practices have emerged during the pandemic, what access and equity concerns surrounding maternal health have arisen in light of increased reliance on telehealth, and what lessons can be applied to a postpandemic future.