Abstract: In March of 2020, Northwell Health created a telelactation service as an innovative way to support moms through the breastfeeding process. In response to the Covid-19 crisis, post-partum mothers and infants were being discharged early after delivery. With little resources available and limited education provided during their hospital stay, many moms had little to no support related to lactation services. In addition, many patients did not have family resources to support their discharge due to quarantine recommendations. Northwell Health identified the need to support new moms and initiated a telelactation program at two of our facilities.Telelactation consults used audio-visual technology and professional lactation consultants to answer questions related to the breastfeeding process, resolve existing breastfeeding issues, and provide support to mothers in the comfort of their own home.
Purpose for the Program: The Covid-19 pandemic led to shortened hospital stays for post-partum women and their babies thus limiting traditional in hospital education, resources and support systems. The goal of the telelactation program at Northwell Health is to provide remote lactation consultations via audio visual technology thereby supporting new parents related to the breastfeeding process and provide breastfeeding support to mothers in the comfort of their own homes. Studies have shown that telelactation offers a service that rivals in-person care and is often more convenient for the mother, less costly, and encourages self-efficacy.
Proposed Change: Northwell Health aims to provide new mothers with every available opportunity to breast feed. The telelactation program offers an extra layer of support to help mothers feel confident, encouraged, and cared for. Northwell Health plans to expand the telelactation service to additional Northwell Health sites as well as Northwell employees.
Implementation: During the Covid 19 crisis, a need for telelactation services was identified at Northwell Health. The program started with one registered nurse who is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) taking referrals via email from hospital based lactation consultants at two Northwell sites. A telelactation script and workflows were created. Also, the telelacation RN, a novice with telehealth, received education related to telehealth use and troubleshooting technical issues. The RN emailed referred moms to set up 1 hour appointments within 72 hours of discharge. In the initial phase of the telelactation program (March 2020-October 2020), 335 telelactation consultations were successfully completed.
Outcomes and evaluation: To assess the success of the program, patient satisfaction scores and continued breastfeeding/breastfeeding exclusivity percentages are being used as key performance indicators (KPIs). Initial results from 10/26/20 to 12/23/20 are as follows:
100% of patients felt that the Northwell telelactation support call was helpful
96% of patients felt their decision on how to feed their baby was supported
69% of moms were exclusively breastfeeding at 6 weeks