• 20Jan

    Digital information tools associated with improved experiences of maternity care

    The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) and the Women’s Institute, have published a report, Support Overdue 2017, based on their second survey of women’s experiences of their maternity care.

    The report considers the use of digital technologies and found:

    • 34% of women are using a specific digital technology, such as an app for their mobile phone or tablet, based on their own research or recommendations from others
    • 65% of women who used digital technology used it to track milestones, such as when their baby kicked or when they had contractions
    • 32% of women who used digital technology used it to access information about diet, alcohol, smoking, or other health issues
    • 5% of women who used digital technology used it to book their antenatal appointments
    • 5% of women who used digital technology used it to access their maternity records or notes

    Women whose midwives used or encouraged them to use specific digital technologies report a better quality of antenatal and intrapartum care

    The report endorses Better Births’ recommendation that health professionals use electronic, interoperable maternity records that women can access and input data into, and ensure that support is available to enable women to take advantage of these tools if they wish.

    It urges the Maternity Transformation Programme’s ‘Harnessing digital technology’ work stream to prioritise the development of a holistic digital tool that includes the types of functionality that is available via independent apps as well as NHS ‘patient portal’ features. The tool must be available in multiple languages and across multiple hosting platforms.

    55% of women were presented with options about where they would give birth, made a decision and then had that decision achieved.

    The report urges the Maternity Transformation Programme’s ‘Harnessing digital technology’ work stream to include in the development of the digital maternity tool functionality that will allow more women to fully understand their birthplace choice options in their local area.

    The report also finds that over 40% of women do not understand ‘risk’ as associated with their own circumstances and women report that a poor institutional understanding of ‘risk’ has hindered their decision-making about their own care.

    The report asks the Maternity Choice and Personalisation pioneers to develop a tool that can adequately explain to women the level of care that they require and remind the pioneers that workforce planning must take into account the time needed for midwives and others to explain this fully.

    The full report can be accessed via the National Childbirth Trust website.