Digital tools and services like the digital maternity healthcare record and digital-redbook are reducing paperwork and empowering women to better manage their pregnancy and health. By supporting mothers, we are helping to give people the best start in life.
The BadgerNet Maternity Notes App at Gateshead Health NHS Trust has given women real-time access to their maternity records using their smartphone, PC or tablet.
The information is generated from the hospital’s maternity system using details entered by a midwife or other staff caring for the mother. This includes blood test results, reminders about appointments and information on antenatal classes.
The App also allows expectant mothers to add information about their preferred birth plan, any allergies or relevant health issues prior to an appointment. As well as helping women to be more involved in their own care, it provides a valuable resource for clinicians who have all the information they need to make the best decisions for the women in their care.
Corinne Blackburn, a Community Midwife and Digital Project Lead, has for the past two and half years been involved with the transition from paper records to an electronic system. She has helped to design and implement the system, and trains other clinicians on how to use it. She said:
“From a clinician’s perspective, the appointment reminder is a really great feature because expectant mums get a text message, but also, they can view all their appointments through the App, so they’re more likely to not forget their appointment; whereas in the past they could easily misplace their appointment letter or handheld notes. The level of interaction with women is much better as well, and the updated version of Maternity Notes being released in January will allows us to display targeted information, which is relevant to that expectant mum and allows us to personalise care plans– all improving the relationship we have with the woman.”
With Perinatal Mental Health being so topical right now, the App will help those who find it useful to write down their feelings, by providing somewhere to capture those thoughts. This will be especially helpful when they come to an appointment and don’t want to talk about things, but can easily use the App to show the midwife how they were feeling a few days ago, and that helps communication and improves the care they receive.”
Since the App launched in June 2018, usage of the App has increased to 78 per cent with very positive feedback from women.
Judith Tuck is expecting her first baby and has found the App to be a useful resource.
She said: “It’s great having all the information I need in one place and the app means I can easily check it anywhere, such as on the bus on the way to work.
“When it’s your first baby, there can seem a lot of information out there to think about and having it all on an App that you can keep going back to, is really useful.
“I haven’t decided on my birth plan yet, but the App is encouraging me to think about it and I can add in comments that will then be shared with my midwife.”
Corinne also commented that: “Going digital has brought lots of advantages such reducing the need for duplication and carrying bulky maternity notes and reduced the initial booking appointment time by up to 10 minutes with the pre portal booking functionality, which frees up valuable time.”
Over the course of a year, the Trust could potentially save over 400 hours in staff time, which will free up more time for patient care.
Future upgrades to the App will enable women to add photos and diary entries, creating lasting memories of their pregnancy and baby’s journey.
Better Births, the National Maternity Review, sets out clearly that a woman should have access to her own electronic record and receive information tailored to her own needs. In 2018, NHS Digital initiated pilots across 20 sites in England, which involved working with women, maternity services and supportive system suppliers to provide a convenient means for pregnant women to access their electronic record.
The ambition is to provide 100,000 women with access to their electronic record by October 2019. As at December 2018, there were 14 live sites providing 22,000 women with access to their electronic record. More sites are due to go live, with NHS Digital working with Maternity Voices Partnerships, midwives and suppliers to further improve the functionality and usability.
For further information, read Roger Carter, Programme Manager for the Digital Maternity Programme’s blog, on the progress being made in introducing electronic maternity care records and the benefits they will bring to patients and NHS staff.