Connected health, or telehealth, interventions have been targeted to help reduce health care disparities in rural populations for its ability to remotely connect patients and providers.
In a study population at a Pennsylvania health system with both rural and urban ZIP codes, low-risk pregnant women were enrolled in an integrated technology platform, Babyscripts (BRx), with a mobile application and connected devices to remotely transmit blood pressure (BP) readings. A retrospective analysis was performed on de-identified data from patients with similar demographics from rural and urban ZIP codes to compare outcomes: average BP readings per individual, frequency of trigger BP readings (>140/90), and average interval between BP readings.
Of 795 low-risk pregnant women enrolled in remote BP monitoring, 46 resided in rural ZIP codes (5.79%). Among the 46 patients in rural ZIP codes the average number of BP readings per patient was 17.8 compared to 17.6 in the urban setting (total BP readings: 823 and 13,211 respectively). The frequency of trigger BP readings >140/90 was 2.07% in our rural population compared to 2.24% in urban population. The average interval between readings was 7.99 days rural compared to 7.94 urban.
Connected health interventions for low-risk pregnant women in a rural population resulted in healthcare engagement and remote BP monitoring comparable to that observed in the urban setting. Future controlled studies can examine the role of connected health as a driver for reducing health disparities for remote and rural communities.