The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) announced a new positioning statement to call for a Digital Midwife in every maternity service in the next 12 months. This initiative and drive by the Royal College recognises the significant importance of NHS led maternity departments and the critical need to adopt digital solutions to deliver first class care to expectant mothers and their families.
Hermione Jackson, Digital Advisor, Royal College of Midwives recently said to HealthTech Newspaper: “For too long maternity services have been overlooked, passed over and generally left at the back of the queue when it comes to digital investment. Investing in digital technology and giving staff the training and equipment they need will lead to better care, regardless of where that care is delivered.
“There is clear evidence that more and better use of digital technology is supported by women, midwives, maternity support workers and other maternity staff. Improvements have been happening but at a snail’s pace and we need to see this move much more rapidly simply to catch-up with other areas of the NHS.”
Delivering technology based solutions to maternity units can help transform the way care is delivered and to address some of the issues that have been recently reported. The positive measures and speed of technology adoption during the pandemic is a clear sign that the NHS is actively seeking to embrace technology based solutions to deliver improved patient care. Now is the perfect time for the NHS to take forward the digital agenda, allowing maternity care to fully benefit from these digital initiatives.
Many maternity based digital solutions have already been launched, such as the
The Symptom-specific Obstetric Triage System (BSOTS) - Created to provide a ‘standardised method of safely and efficiently assessing women’
Liverpool Women’s NHS Trust ‘My Pregnancy Notes’ - Enabling all women to have access to their maternity notes online, including access to personalised care plan, appointment details, information, certificates and a notes section to include questions for appointments.
These solutions are moving maternity care in the right direction, but more needs to be done in delivering safe and effective care. Digital solutions not only need to provide staff with a full end-to-end care pathway following the entire pregnancy journey, but also enable clinical interventions should any complications occur. Many trusts are now moving towards paperless maternity notes, however there is still a tendency to use paper-based records, which bring about their own complications. Digital adoption takes away these inherent problems that come with paper record keeping, the most important one being patient safety.
Rapid action is being taken in transforming maternity services throughout the UK, whereby maternity services in England will receive an extra £95.9m year on year, some of which will be allocated to help trusts digitise their maternity departments. The funding is in response to the Ockenden First Report which recommended seven immediate and essential actions needed to make maternity services safer, including issues focused on informed consent and putting the voice of women and their families first.
A further £52 million is being invested in NHS maternity services to fast track its Long Term Plan commitment to ensure that all women will have access to all of their maternity notes and information through a smartphone or other device by 2023/24.
Open Medical has recently launched its maternity pathway at Northwick Park Hospital, to help digitise the department and help deliver a streamlined service to expectant mothers. For more information on how Open Medical can digitise your maternity unit email us on firstname.lastname@example.org