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Partners HealthCare is connecting pregnant women to care with text messaging

9/21/2011, 1:13 a.m.
(From l to r): Melissa Shrestha, Partners Community Health; Paula McNichols, executive director at Brookside Community Health Center; Alba Garcia, women’s health counselor/medical assistant, Brookside Community Health Center; Daisy Ocaiso, medical assistant at Brookside Community Health Center; Maria Ocaiso, perinatal case manager, Brookside Community Health Center; Maria Bianciardi, OB nurse coordinator, Brookside Community Health Center; Alexandra Pelletier, Partners Center for Connected Health. Lightchaser

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(From l to r): Melissa Shrestha, Partners Community Health; Paula McNichols, executive director at Brookside Community Health Center; Alba Garcia, women’s health counselor/medical assistant, Brookside Community Health Center; Daisy Ocaiso, medical assistant at Brookside Community Health Center; Maria Ocaiso, perinatal case manager, Brookside Community Health Center; Maria Bianciardi, OB nurse coordinator, Brookside Community Health Center; Alexandra Pelletier, Partners Center for Connected Health.

Pregnant moms at Brookside Community Health Center in Jamaica Plain will be participating in an innovative text messaging program that is designed to offer support and encourage the recommended level of prenatal care.

The program is being piloted by Partners Community Health — an area of Partners HealthCare — and Partners’ Center for Connected Health. It will run for a year and is open to all pregnant patients at the health center who are followed by a Brigham and Women’s Midwife.

If patients would like to participate in the program, they will receive text messages beginning at 12 weeks into their pregnancies and continuing for two months after giving birth. The text messages will be in English and Spanish, and they will offer women helpful reminders about how to get in touch with their health care team, taking their prenatal vitamins, drinking enough water, counting their baby’s movements, purchasing a car seat and many more.   

“This is a unique and cutting-edge way to keep our patients connected to care, and we are delighted to be able to share in this opportunity,” said Paula McNichols, executive director of Brookside Community Health Center. “Our team of clinicians at the health center is dedicated to their patients, and this text messaging pilot is another tool that can help them to continue to deliver high quality care.”

The text messages were first piloted last year at the Lynn Community Health Center with 25 young, pregnant women, and had positive results. The messages were found to encourage more women to receive the recommended level of prenatal care, and give the moms-to-be a feeling of being closely connected to their care team. A majority of the women who participated told us that the text messages also helped them to learn more ways to take care of themselves and their babies.

“The text messaging experience was very effective with the first group of pregnant women, so we are excited to have the opportunity to expand that experience to include more patients,” Matt Fishman, vice president for Community Health for Partners HealthCare said. “Through partnerships with the Center for Connected Health and our partners in the community at the health centers —  we are finding more ways to make deeper commitments to the people and neighborhoods we serve, and to help them to improve their overall health and well being.”  

Technology continues to offer opportunities to motivate and educate patients in innovative ways. “In an increasingly mobile society, text messaging is a mainstream mode of communication for many people,” said Dr. Joe Kvedar, director of the Center for Connected Health. “At the Center for Connected Health, our goal is to move health care out of the doctor’s office and into the day-to-day lives of our patients. We are using readily available technology, such as cell phones, to engage patients and help them better manage their health.”