A new app is helping clinicians to monitor pregnant women for high blood pressure and glucose levels at home thanks to a team at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester.
During the COVID-19 pandemic it has been vital to keep people out of hospital where possible to minimise the risk of virus transmission. For pregnant women, who are recognised as at higher risk from COVID-19, it is essential that, where possible, hospital attendances are avoided, writes the University of Manchester in a press release.
Avoiding face-to-face appointments posed significant challenges for antenatal services as many women receive vital care during these clinics, including blood pressure measurement and glucose monitoring. Both checks are important as they can pick up signs of serious complications, such as pre-eclampsia or diabetes.
The MyMaternity app was developed with clinicians at Saint Mary’s Hospital, part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), and used feedback from people previously under their care to help inform design and content. The app allows pregnant women to record their blood pressure and glucose measurements at home, with information sent to their midwifery team in real-time. Midwives monitor the results and escalate for additional treatment if there is a need. The app also provides guidance and information for the users.
The app is now available at three hospitals in Greater Manchester and has supported more than 400 pregnant women so far.
Professor Jenny Myers, Consultant Obstetrician at Saint Mary’s Hospital and Professor of Obstetrics and Maternal Medicine at The University of Manchester, said: “During COVID-19 it has been vital to keep our pregnant women safe and reduce hospital attendances where they can be avoided. By being able to monitor our pregnant women remotely, maintain regular contact with them and view their results easily in the new app we can continue their care and limit the number of people needing to attend hospital during the pandemic.”
Rose McGarty said the app was reassuring to know she was being closely monitored by her clinicians during her recent pregnancy.
Rose (39), from Cheshire, has nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disease which can lead to extra complications such as high blood pressure. Her medical condition meant she was at risk of hypertension and pre-eclampsia during her pregnancy and so needed specialist care and monitoring at Saint Mary’s Hospital.
Through the MyMaternity app, Rose was able to monitor her blood pressure at home and send the results directly to the team providing her care.
Rose, who gave birth to baby Arlo in July, said: “It was so reassuring to be able to log my blood pressure readings into the app and get guidance directly from the app itself or from the team at Saint Mary’s.
“During the pandemic it was really helpful to have that additional link and contact to the team, especially as being pregnant and my other health conditions put me at high risk for COVID. Having the app available meant I could be monitored at home and I didn’t need to worry about travelling to the hospital unless it was necessary or for a scan.
“I always knew I could call the team if I needed to, but taking the blood pressure myself at home became part of my pregnancy routine and reassured me that I was doing the right thing for myself and my baby.
“I can’t thank the dedicated team at Saint Mary’s, especially the Manchester Antenatal Vascular Service (MAViS), enough for the care they have provided during my pregnancies. I now have my two miracle babies “
Rose, who is also mum to five-year-old Ruby, was especially happy to use the app after providing her opinions and experience to the development team while it was being created.
Rose added: “It was really interesting to contribute to the app development process and share my thoughts and experiences. It’s very important that patients and the public are involved in the process to make sure it works for the people who will be using it, making sure it is simple, easy to use and easy to understand.
“I never thought I’d actually use it myself but when I found out I was pregnant a few months later I was excited to try it out from a patient perspective. It was really easy and simple to use and I’d recommend it to anyone concerned about high blood pressure during their pregnancy.”
The app has been developed by tech company Graphnet, which specialises in developing health and care IT solutions, and supported by Health Innovation Manchester’s delivery team. It has also been developed in collaboration with users.
The functionality of the MyMaternity app is set to be integrated into the GM Care Record, which is also powered by Graphnet. The GM Care Record collates information held by different health and care organisations to ensure that GPs, doctors, nurses, midwives and practitioners can see up to date medical records, care plans, medications and test results. It now informs the right care and treatment for almost all 2.8m people across Greater Manchester.
Guy Lucchi, Digital Innovation Director at Health Innovation Manchester, said: “The MyMaternity app is a fantastic example of using technology to improve patient care and support clinicians. It is also a testament to the strength of our existing devolved partnerships across GM to take swift action on things that will directly benefit patients and frontline services during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”
Brian Waters, chief executive of Graphnet, said: “We are delighted to have been able to help Health Innovation Manchester respond quickly and use our technology to provide important monitoring services safely to pregnant women.”
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