INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A new proposal hopes to save lives by connecting more Indiana mothers to the internet.
Telemedicine is proven to help expecting mothers and their babies, but it’s not always available to people who live in a rural area.
Indiana U.S. Senator Todd Young is proposing a bill that would identify those parts of the state and hopefully pave the way for a solution.
Inside Cora Biggs' Mooresville home, connecting with family is easy but connecting to Wi-Fi isn't.
“Not great, ever. I mean, even this close to a town, it’s considered a little bit further out, and our internet and our Wi-Fi is hit or miss,” said Biggs.
A poor internet signal means Biggs probably couldn’t take advantage of telemedicine. So, when she wants a doctor to examine her unborn child, she has to drive 40 minutes to the nearest hospital.
“We’re fashionably late quite often,” said Biggs.
She said it’s tough with a toddler. However, she’s grateful she has the means to get there because not everyone does. That’s why Senator Young is so passionate about his bill that would map out areas with poor connectivity.
He said this needs to happen before the state can invest in the infrastructure to fix the problem.
“Where there are a lack of tele-health services, we see higher rates of maternal mortality," said Young. "And since Indiana rates one of the highest in the country in terms of mother deaths, this is a really important issue for us.”
Telemedicine has advanced significantly in the last decade. There are portable ultrasound machines that plug right into a phone.
“I can imagine that would save a lot of time and be a lot less stressful on a mother,” said Biggs.
The Indiana Hospital Association supports the bill.
It says telemedicine could help decrease pre-term birth and low birth weight, which were the leading causes of infant deaths in 2017.
The most recent data from the Indiana State Department of Health shows that from 2017 to 2018, Indiana experienced the largest decline in infant mortality in six years. However, the association would like to see major reductions in maternal deaths too.
“That would be awesome," said Biggs.