As we travel further and further down the digital road, organisations are trying to keep up. And that’s particularly true in health care.
But they are also finding that the fast pace of change in technology that is happening all around us is opening up real opportunities.
One example of this is how East Kent Hospitals Trust is taking advantage of technology to bring improvements for expectant mums.
Dr Ciaran Crowe, an educational research fellow in Obstetrics and gynaecology at the Trust, realised that pregnant women visiting the hospital all had one thing in common – they had smartphones.
After all, they all are usually young, tech savvy patients. Ciaran saw that as an opportunity to provide them with a way of getting information at their fingertips, rather than giving them bundles of advice leaflets to take home.
He and colleague Joanne Olagboyega have worked closely with IT professionals to develop the MOMA maternity App, which aims to give personalised information to expectant mothers’ phones to really help and advise them during pregnancy.
It has a series of helpful videos on it rather than just text, making it easier to digest.
And they are now moving towards personalising that information so patients can access their health records, book and get details of appointments and even find what they can do to improve their well-being during pregnancy, depending on their individual situation.
Ciaran said: “This is a perfect example of how IT experts and clinical practitioners like Jo and myself can work together closely to improve people’s lives.
“The digital age we are entering is presenting endless opportunities to improve the way we care for our patients – so it is a great time for those with creativity and vision to get involved.”
Expectant parents are used to the ordeal of going to their clinic to see medical professionals usually in their eighth week of pregnancy and leaving with piles of leaflets and documents.
Some have personal details, others reams of advice. And it can be quite difficult to keep on top of it all.
“But now we can put all this information on an app so that they have it at their fingertips, can search for it, and can view much of the information as informative videos. This really is designed to help expectant mothers.
“We are also developing the app so that they will be able to access their medical details wherever they are in the world and this is being rolled out in early 2019.
“This will mean that patients will be able to get details on their medication and show them to whoever they choose, which will really help if they need medical advice while away from home.”
After this is introduced they aim to link up the app with the hospital’s PTL computer system, which records patients’ personal journeys and details of their care.
This will enable them to advise expectant mums on a range of issues such as the dangers of smoking during pregnancy, if they smoke, and give them details about what to do if they are in risk of or already have diabetes – a condition that can be heightened when women are expecting.
Jo, who is a maternity matron at the trust, added: “We would like to use this app to be able to inform people so they can make their choice for their unborn baby. We don’t seek to tell people what to do but want to give them information that helps them think.
“If a patient looks like they are in risk of diabetes then we will be able to send them details about healthier living, or if they smoke we can let them have details of how this can harm their unborn child.
“These are just two examples of how the app may be able to help. It will also cut down on staff time around mailing out appointments and other paperwork – so it really is something that will help patients and medical practitioners.
“The app allows the most up to date information to be accessible from one central place and has many useful elements such as the search and notes function.
“We are constantly developing it and I am excited about its next stages and what this will mean for mums to be across east Kent.”
For more information on the MOMA app go to https://www.ekhuft.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/pregnancy-and-childbirth/