Rochester, Minnesota - In 2012, Mayo Clinic's Center for Innovation and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology began enrolling volunteers in an experimental program called the OB Nest Project. The program's goal: Reduce the number of prenatal visits for women with uncomplicated pregnancies by giving them equipment and education to monitor their blood pressure and the baby's heartbeat at home. This approach broke new ground in a care system that hadn't seen much change "since the telephone was invented," the Star Tribune reported at the time.
The program's lead obstetrician back then, Roger Harms, M.D., told the newspaper he initially worried patients "might panic" if they "ran into trouble with the equipment, such as the fetal monitor." But it turns out "that didn't happen." In fact, patients loved OB Nest so much that after another successful "trial run" last year, a recent Strib article reports the program will soon become part of Mayo's "routine obstetric service."
That's good news for Sally Rude, a nurse at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus who participated in the program last year. Rude used the fetal monitor to search for her baby's heartbeat "at least once a week" throughout her pregnancy. She tells the paper she valued the program's "reduced checkup schedule and home monitoring so much" that she "doesn't want to go back to standard prenatal care" if she has another baby.
She's not alone. Seri Carney, M.D., an anesthesiology resident at Mayo's Rochester campus, also participated in OB Nest and tells the Mayo Clinic News Network that the program saved her time and also made her pregnancy a family affair. "We could listen to the heartbeat whenever we wanted," she says. "Our daughter was 4 at the time, and doing it at home meant that she could get involved, too. That was really fun." And she says it was reassuring to have access to an online "care community" of other OB Nest participants and nurses.
"This fulfills the holy grail of what patients expect today," Abimbola Famuyide, M.B.B.S., chair of Mayo's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Rochester, tells the Mayo Clinic News Network. "Improving the patient experience, in the case of OB Nest, includes empowering expectant women to truly engage in, and take control of, their care."