Friday, 22 September 2023
The Telecare Special Session at Heartbeat's 2023 Annual Pregnancy Help Conference The Telecare Special Session at Heartbeat's 2023 Annual Pregnancy Help Conference Lisa Bourne

Heartbeat adds critical telecare discussion to Annual Pregnancy Help Conference

A critical conversation on the need for telecare in pregnancy help took place at Heartbeat International's 2023 Annual Conference.

The pervasive availability of chemical abortion today requires that pregnancy help become even more available to serve women in need, making the use of virtual tools to meet women where they are more crucial.

Going beyond a brick-and-mortar-only approach to pregnancy help is an increasing need with the rise of chemical abortion, and the issue was the subject of a panel discussion at the first Heartbeat Conference post-Roe.

Some 50 people attended the special telecare discussion organized outside the Conference’s established schedule, to provide the opportunity for needed conversation to address the emerging need for telecare.

Questions examined during the discussion were how to serve women faster than they can receive a chemical abortion, at what point does a woman become a client, can she be met where she is, and how best to connect with her outside of the traditional brick-and-mortar approach. The discussion concerned client services, medical, and technology models.

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Heartbeat assembled a team of experts from within the organization for the panel, including Tracie Shellhouse, vice president of Ministry Services, Beth Diemert, director of Affiliate Services, Nafisa Kennedy, director of Option Line, Margie Mayes, Next Level CMS sales and customer service specialist, Christa Brown, director of Medical Impact, and Danielle White, Heartbeat general counsel.

Setting the stage for the panel discussion, Heartbeat International President Jor-El Godsey discussed parts of the 2021 Heartbeat Room to Grow white paper addressing centers’ availability to clients.

Along with the issue of aligning operating hours with client need, Godsey spoke of how much has changed this past year with the Dobbs ruling and ongoing push for increased access to abortion, and earlier with the covid pandemic, which has driven change in client needs as well. 

The answers are changing as we speak, he said.

Margie Mayes talks with Telecare Special Session attendees/Lisa Bourne

Women’s needs will remain the same, but now more than ever the question is how best to reach them.

Where the terms telemedicine or telehealth denote the virtual provision of medical care, telecare is providing service and support virtually.

The rise of the remote workforce also represents a new source of telecare missionaries.

Data indicating that at the same time four out of five women who go to an abortion center are going to terminate, but four out of five women who come to a pregnancy center are going to choose life, underscores the crucial need to engage women before the abortion lobby does.

Though telecare must become a focus, brick-and-mortar pregnancy help is not going away.

Pregnancy help servants are people of relationship, loving women in need, knowing that the best solution for abortion is another person.

One of the issues at hand is that people are pre-buying the abortion pill to have it accessible whenever they need it. 

The discussion explored the question of how to provide services, information, and support virtually in instances where a woman does not come to a pregnancy center, and the fact that serving her virtually does mean you have served her.

Attendees of the Special Telecare Session stayed after to continue discussion/Lisa Bourne


Analysis indicates that for each person serving at pregnancy help center there are an average of four lives saved per year - which is significant and means millions of lives each year in the U.S. are being saved from abortion through pregnancy help.

Pregnancy help centers are available in more than 51% of the counties in the U.S., which is important, as is mobile pregnancy help, but virtual care will enable pregnancy help to get to more places.

The drop in the number of abortion centers in the U.S. has resulted in pregnancy help centers now outnumbering abortion facilities five-to-one, but the task now is finding the path to the woman in need, or equipping and empowering her to find the path to pregnancy help.

Even with life states restricting abortion post-Roe, abortions are still happening. Abortion may have been displaced in same scenarios, it remains accessible, and some projections are that in 2023 70% of all U.S. abortions will be chemical.

Tweet This: A critical conversation on the need for telecare in pregnancy help took place at Heartbeat International's Annual Conference

Option Line is entirely virtual due to its very operation, offering service and education upon contact with the woman, making her a client immediately.

The covid pandemic provided a glimpse into telecare, with centers shifting to offering parenting classes and other services virtually. 

Option Line has begun to go beyond telecare to telehealth by adding RNs who are serving the new Option Line Plus team. Once Option Line’s professionally trained consultants discern that the client needs enhanced service, they connect her with the Option Line Plus consultants with Next Level technology.

Next Level gives the ability to connect with her via a virtual meeting, meeting her where she is.

These tools make telecare available at any point, wherever she is.

The need for telecare is underscored by the existence of shorter attention spans, prevalence of online videos and electronic communication, and these things driving demand for immediate solutions and access to information.

It is possible to effectively provide services through technology by first connecting with her and then having telehealth available via those frontline nurses and also dividing the workload and client flow between telehealth and telecare as appropriate.

Discussion following the Telecare Special Session/Lisa Bourne

The prospect of legal issues enter in only when engaging in telemedicine. Data privacy is a concern and currently this is dealt with by individual states’ laws.

The move toward telecare is prompting increased need for client marketing, which comprised an entire track of the 2023 Heartbeat conference.

Roughly half of the participants at the telecare panel discussion indicated when asked that their centers were engaging in telecare and/or telehealth. Many of the attendees remained for some time after the session’s official end for continued discussion.

Heartbeat staff emphasized that the pregnancy help network is absolutely committed to bringing the pregnancy help community as much information and resources as possible as new things are discovered. Developments will continue to be communicated through Heartbeat e-newsletters and press statements.

Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News.

Lisa Bourne

Lisa Bourne is Managing Editor of Pregnancy Help News and Content Writer for Heartbeat International. She has worked in journalism and communication for the pro-life community, the Catholic Church, other Christian denominations, and secular media for several years. 

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