Telehealth program aims to reduce health care disparities for Black patients giving birth

Black woman enjoying pregnancy at home

Telehealth program aims to reduce health care disparities for Black patients giving birth


Black patients at UC Davis Health and nationally attend fewer postpartum care visits compared to those of other races. Health care access inequities, particularly during the critical six-week period after birth, contribute to disparities for Black patients, including increased risk of complications and even death.

A new telehealth program at UC Davis Health aims to reduce these disparities. The project has received a Telehealth Equity Catalyst Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges for $27,000.

“We are thrilled and proud to receive this award and look forward to leveraging technology to reduce disparities and improve perinatal outcomes for Black people giving birth,” said Ijeoma Uche. Uche co-leads the project and is co-founder of Birth By Us, an app for Black people focused on pregnancy and postpartum care. She is also a medical student in the UC Davis ARC-MD honors pathway, which includes a focus on research.

Headshots of Jennifer Rosenthal and Ijeoma Uche
Jennifer Rosenthal and Ijeoma Uche

The telehealth program will begin this summer.

Reducing barriers to health care

“Our goal is to demonstrate how we can ensure patient-centered maternity care despite the complexities that persist nationwide. We’ll do this by harnessing technology, bringing us one step closer to offering the tools and resources needed to deliver the care all birthing families deserve,” Uche said.

The program will expand the use of video visits for prenatal and postnatal care for Black patients over a 12-month period. Throughout that time, researchers will track completed and failed video visits.

“This is the third year in a row that UC Davis Health has received the Telehealth Equity Catalyst Award, recognizing our unwavering commitment to implementing digital innovations to address barriers to high quality care,” said Jennifer Rosenthal, project co-lead. Rosenthal is also the Center for Health and Technology faculty director of digital health equity and process improvement, associate professor of pediatrics and ARC-MD associate director. “It’s an honor to be part of this team to conduct scholarly work that helps mitigate perinatal disparities.”

The Telehealth Equity Catalyst Award aims to recognize and highlight efforts to understand and address barriers to care associated with telehealth and health technology. 

The project is also supported by Catherine Cansino, lead obstetrician and professor of obstetrics and gynecology; Michelle Bustamante, lead nurse and UC Davis obstetric nurse manager; and Daniel Stein, lead IT member and UC Davis Epic telehealth manager.