Lactation Foundation initiates successful care model during pandemic
The abstract, titled “Patient Satisfaction with a COVID-19 Telehealth Lactation Care Model” studied patient satisfaction with teleconsults during the pandemic, both with and without corresponding car-side weight measurements, and the differences between satisfaction with in-person visits prior to the pandemic.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) in Houston were able to continue seeing patients in person with additional screening questions and proper personal protective equipment. However, on March 23, 2020, clinics began seeing patients exclusively through telehealth and phone appointments.
“Telehealth visits have correlated with high patient satisfaction in a variety of healthcare settings,” the authors said. “However, research regarding telehealth in lactation care settings is limited.”
Despite access to most of the same information available for in-person visits, the IBCLCs had concerns regarding the inability to monitor infant weight gain in high-risk infants. These concerns led to the development of a plan to offer socially-distanced, car-side weight measurements and test weights.
Test weights allowed for the accurate measurement of each infant on a highly sensitive scale both before and after breastfeeding to obtain an accurate estimate of the amount of milk consume and provide other information to guide the IBCLCs in lactation management.
Using existing data on telehealth appointments collected early in the COVID-19 pandemic, and the year prior, the group created a survey of residents in Houston and its surrounding communities at the time they received services.
Patients who were at least 18 years old and able to access an online survey platform were then recruited to complete the survey. The team received 252 survey responses out of 1,122 potential candidates. Patient satisfaction was then determined by using one item from the survey regarding the helpfulness of their visit.
The data revealed that patients were satisfied with teleconsult lactation services provided during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team also discovered that patient satisfaction with teleconsults was similar to the positive results reported with in-person visits prior to the pandemic and showed no statistical difference among the visits.
“A teleconsult-based model, in conjunction with car-side weight assessments, allowed continued provision of lactation support despite an inability to see patients for in-person appointments due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the authors said. “Overall, the vast majority of respondents found this model to be helpful, and no significant difference was found in patient satisfaction among patients who had teleconsults, either with or without weight measurements, during the pandemic and patients who had in-person visits prior to the pandemic.”
Contributing authors to the paper from the Lactation Foundation at McGovern Medical School are Megan K. Oggero, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, IBCLC, RLC; Rebecca B. Cappello, MHS, RD, IBCLC, RLC; Paul C. Clay, BA, IBCLC, RLC; and Connie R. Gaskamp, BSN, RN, IBCLC, RLC.