Increase competitive edge - Virginia Hospital Center

VHC Health delivers new OB virtual care program, convenience for patients

A pregnant woman connects with a doctor through her computer.

Member: VHC Health, Arlington, Virginia

Years before the COVID-19 pandemic forced health care providers to find virtual solutions for care delivery, VHC Health imagined an innovative service for its obstetrics (OB) patients. A presentation on Mayo Clinic's OB Nest Program, a prenatal care offering that incorporates technology and virtual appointments, sparked the interest of VHC Health leaders attending the Mayo Clinic Care Network Leadership Summit.

Located in the competitive Washington, D.C. metro area, VHC sought to differentiate its OB practice with a service that would deliver convenience and continuity of care. VHC Health tapped into Health Care Consulting, one of the benefits of care network membership.

"We saw this as an opportunity to offer a markedly different option in our market, which includes several large academic centers that deliver a lot of babies," says William D. Anderson, M.D., M.H.C.M., senior vice president of the VHC Health Physician Group. "We wanted to give women needing prenatal care a choice, and (we) hoped the convenience and access of this offering would bring them to our hospital for their care — and their family's — even after delivery."

Delivering quality care at home

Following several telephone discussions, information exchanges and a site visit to Mayo Clinic's Rochester, Minnesota, campus by VHC Health's chief nursing officer, VHC was ready to introduce its OB Connect program.

"We used Mayo's approach as our blueprint," says Hooman Gharai, M.B.A, M.P.H., director of operations for VHC Health Medical Specialties. "COVID-19 caused unforeseen delays, but our video visit platform and commitment to safely care for our patients served us and our patients well."

Patients began using OB Connect in March 2021.

"Patients purchase a blood pressure cuff and a fetal Doppler, then report the data points to the nurse practitioner or certified nurse midwife with whom they meet," Gharai says. "What's great about it is that they can stay home and have basically the same appointment and avoid sitting in traffic. It also benefits other members of our community who rely on public transportation and have difficulty taking time off of work for patient appointments."

Working more quickly and creatively

Within the first three months of launch, approximately 30 patients enrolled in OB Connect.

"It's early, but we are seeing some positive indications," says Dr. Anderson. "A unique twist is that, while the program focuses on convenience for the patient, it gets the patient involved as a partner in their own care." This, he says, tends to make patients more compliant with care plans, which provides better outcomes. "I'm particularly interested to see outcomes in C-section rates and overall patient satisfaction as the program continues to grow."

VHC Health is using the OB Connect experience as a springboard to consider innovative programs in other specialties.

"Mayo Clinic's Health Care Consulting is very worthwhile. Our interaction with their (Mayo Clinic) team was fast and straightforward. We got the information we needed, and we ran with it," says Dr. Anderson.

Mr. Gharai adds, "We work with Mayo to get ideas and consider their lessons learned. We know we can and should adapt programs to fit our market. But collaboration and information sharing like this allows us to work more quickly and creatively, which is a great benefit."