Using a Virtual Assistant to Support Healing at Home

When new parents take their infants home from the hospital, they typically have many questions. Is my baby crying too much? Is she nursing enough? Does his poop look normal? During this challenging time, sometimes known as the “fourth trimester,” families need a great deal of support.

To meet this need, the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania (HUP), in partnership with Memora Health, developed a program called “Healing at Home”. The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania is part of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Eliminating Inequities and Reducing Postpartum Morbidity and Mortality Learning Community. Participants focus on improving clinical and administrative processes to ensure safer and more equitable postpartum care and support for Black mothers and birthing persons.

The Healing at Home program consists of a virtual postpartum assistant, named Penny, which provides automated answers via text message to patients’ questions for the first six weeks after discharge. Penny also administers the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) for screening, and provides blood pressure monitoring for low-risk patients. (High-risk patients participate in a program called Heart Safe Motherhood).

“We launched our program in March of 2020, when COVID-19 was starting when we saw a lot of our parents going home sooner rather than later,” said Laura Scalise, MSN, RN, Nurse Manager at HUP. “We wanted to make sure we could monitor our families that were leaving so soon [after childbirth], provide any connections to support (i.e., lactation referrals), and readily answer the questions they had.”

Read the full article from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.