LIKE a hand-held electronic midwife, South Australian researchers are trialing a new smartphone app to deliver tailored health advice to pregnant women.
The app is aimed at overcoming the gap in information delivery that can arise during the middle months of pregnancy, according to Dr Dianne Rodger, Senior Research Associate at the University of Adelaide.
“Women rarely have contact with their hospital during weeks 12-20 of gestation,” said Dr Rodger.
“This app has been designed to inform them about what’s normal and abnormal at different stages of pregnancy, to provide advice and to let them know who they can contact if they want more information.”
Although obstetric care is a top priority in most health systems, there is a high degree of variation in information delivery to expectant women.
“We’ve recently performed a study which showed that although midwives are excellent communicators, there are no standardised procedures in place for delivery of information,” said Dr Rodger.
“We are primarily reliant on face:face consultations and printed material, and we lack a systematic way of assessing what level of health literacy each patient has. This app may help overcome all these issues.”
"Most pregnant women and new mothers are already turning to the internet for information."
"It is important for health professionals to be providing reliable information in that space for these women to access," Dr Rodger said.
Women participating in the trial use the app to enter their pregnancy dates, and to record day-to-day moods.
The app then provides them with regular information updates matched to their gestation stage, as well as featuring recipes and audio tracks for relaxation. Frequently asked questions (FAQs) and a list of common experiences such as abdominal cramping and bleeding are also included.
“At the 20 week appointment we meet with the women and download the usage data,” explained Dr Rodger.
This study is part of a broader research project called 'Health-e Baby', looking at the use of alternative communication strategies and technologies to promote health to the community.
The research is only applicable to uncomplicated pregnancies, and will conclude at the end of 2014.
The trial app was designed in conjunction with Adelaide-based company Holopoint Interactive.