The Digital Carepath for Midwives Supporting New Moms
BuddyCare - The Digitised Patient Flow for Moms-to-be
From the moment a woman finds out she is pregnant, the journey called pregnancy begins. From morning sickness, to the first ultrasonic imaging, hearing the baby's heartbeat for the first time, over swollen feet and exhaustion, leading to the delivery of the baby. Already from very early on medical care is involved, as of the prenatal care provided by obstetricians or gynecologists, family practice doctors, and midwives, with the goal to ensure the mother-to-be and the baby are safe, happy and healthy.
During the prenatal examination appointments the topic of where the baby shall be delivered is discussed. It may be the case that in addition to their pregnancy consultation work, obstetricians, gynecologists are also working in clinics and may recommend that delivery room to the pregnant woman, so that they can support and guide the mother during the birth of the baby. Of course, the mother has the right to decide where to give birth. Usually, pregnant women start looking for maternity hospitals during the first and second trimester. Many pay attention to choose a clinic in close distance to their home, but others may have additional requirements for the hospitals.
The first contact between mother-to-be and the hospital midwives is often by attending delivery room tours organized by the maternity clinics. Here the women can view the premises, talk to the midwives and ask their questions. And as one may expect there are usually many questions and things that make pregnant women nervous and anxious in regards to giving birth.
How Does a Digital Carepath Provide Education?
When a woman has decided on the birthing clinic, one of the midwives schedules a pre-appointment for her. During this appointment the pregnant woman registers for the birth and the progress of the pregnancy is discussed. As part of the appointment, the midwife introduces the BuddyCare app - a digital carepath service that is accessed from a smartphone. The BuddyCare app is easily downloaded from the most common app stores and after registration through an activation code provided by the maternity clinic, the mom-to-be is enrolled for her digital carepath.
As a two-sided solution, midwives use the clinical dashboard of BuddyCare, which allows them to digitally collect information about the mother and the baby, stay in contact with the pregnant woman and have remote insight into the progress of the pregnancy. The digital carepath includes information about pregnancy, giving birth, breastfeeding but also about the midwives and the delivery rooms of the clinic - all provided by the hospital. The pregnant woman has all information easily accessible on her mobile phone, with the information coming directly from the clinic chosen by her and thus from a reliable source.
In the age of the internet, all information is always at our fingertips, but keep in mind, this may include incorrect information (whether it is misinformation or only scratching the surface) or overwhelm someone who is about to become a parent. The maternity clinic can pre-empt such situations by providing the pregnant women with easily accessible and reliable information in a format used by everyone, the mobile phone. The clinic and midwives benefit from better informed and better prepared women arriving for the date of birth. Not only do they know where to arrive, and where to sign in, but also what to bring with them and what is better to be left at home. This gives the midwives the possibility to focus on the birth.
In addition, by educating pregnant women via a digital carepath, the maternity clinic can reduce the amount of phone calls being placed to them. The carepath can provide a frequently asked question section in the mobile app that is going to answer many open questions already, and the communication feature of the mobile app allows pregnant women to send secure messages directly to the staff of the delivery room. The midwives can answer these questions at a convenient time, and are not as frequently interrupted with phone calls in their workday. A disclaimer message ensures the app users are aware that this communication channel is not meant to be used in cases of emergencies, but they can expect an answer in 48 hours.
The same communication tool gives midwives the ability to reach out to the pregnant women, and not having to catch them on the phone while they may be at work, or in an inconvenient situation, or running after their other children at home. The clinical staff may for example send additional information to the mother-to-be, confirm appointment times, and gather missing information. Rather than it being a burden and a disruption of work, reaching out to the pregnant woman or responding to their questions via the clinical staff dashboard during the low-times in the clinic has become a part of the daily processes.
Benefits of Automated & Visualised Schedules
The utilization of the BuddyCare services enables the midwives to schedule appointments through the clinical dashboard, like the midwife consultation appointment. The appointment date and time is automatically communicated to the app user, the pregnant woman. In case it is necessary to reschedule the appointment, the system updates automatically and informs the mother-to-be about the changes. No phone calls are required. When assigning the pregnant woman the appointment date and time, additional information is forwarded as well. For example, the BuddyCare app may now include a checklist and a reminder to bring on the day of the appointment important things such as the insurance card, the maternity log and the referral letter from the obstetrician or gynecologist.
The mobile app presents all information on a timeline. Piece by piece the woman reads her way through all the materials and receives appointment reminders about what is important for that day closer to the midwife consultation. The mom-to-be is being educated over time, while not being overwhelmed with the amount of information. Meanwhile, the clinical dashboard used by the midwives brings insights on how the app user is progressing on her carepath. Based on that information the clinical staff can identify potential no-shows to appointments early and intervene. Thanks to these real-time insights, the need for postponement or cancellation of the appointments is less likely.
Keep Both Parents Updated
Closer to the scheduled date of birth, the soon-to-be-mother receives on her BuddyCare app information on what the first signs of labour are, a checklist for what items to pack in the hospital bag, and when is it actually time to drive to the hospital. Pregnant women, especially if it is their first child, tend to arrive in the hospital prematurely, and are asked to go back home and wait a little while longer. Early arrivals and potentially being turned away from the birthing clinic can be prevented through the use of educational materials to help the pregnant woman and her partner evaluate the beginning of labour, while clinical questionnaires in the final weeks of pregnancy bring insights about the state of pregnancy to the midwives.
In the BuddyCare app, the carepath can be shared with a loved one, so the mother can receive support from her partner as the same information is available on both their mobile phones. Not only can both app users read the same information, but also fill in details in questionnaires asking about the pregnancy, and the woman’s medical history. Certain information may even address the partner, for example instructions on what is the fastest way to reach the maternity clinic, and where to park the car at arrival. By communicating such information beforehand to both parents, they are going to be less stressed by simple things like the route to the clinic, and parking, but can concentrate on soon meeting their newborn. And even more importantly, the midwives at the delivery room do not have to start explaining on the phone how to find the clinic, where the mother in labour shall be dropped off, and where the car shall be parked. Everyone is better prepared for the birth and ready to welcome the baby!
After the baby is born, the new mother and her newborn are moved from the delivery room to the maternity ward. The next days concentrate on recovering from delivery, bonding with the baby and enjoying family time. The news of the birth of the baby is going to spread joy and happiness within the family and circle of friends. But there is also a medical aspect to the postpartum period.
Prepare Parents for the First Stage of Their Infant’s Life
The medical care after giving birth covers the baby as well as the mother. The baby is going to have the first examination appointments by the pediatrician, is taught to take the breast if the mother wishes to breastfeed, the umbilical cord is observed, and the baby's vitals and well-being are monitored. The mother is going to experience a rollercoaster of emotions after giving birth. Besides the mental ups and downs, she is going to feel changes to her body too. Depending on how the birth went, the medical care of the mother may include wound care of the caesarean section. Otherwise, the mother is going to receive support with how to deal with bleeding, sometimes pain relief medication, and is guided to rest, eat a well-balanced diet, and start pelvic floor exercises when feeling comfortable.
The BuddyCare app is providing information about the postpartum care on the parent’s smartphones. In the past, handouts and flyers were given as paper versions, and often put aside and forgotten to bring home at discharge. By having the details digitally on the phone, the new mothers cannot lose the information and have the chance to read whenever it suits them. This reading material includes information about how to prepare the car for the ride home with the baby, about breastfeeding and the related alternatives, and videos on how to change diapers or give a baby a bath. Depending on the clinic more details may be included on the carepath.
The nurses and midwives on the maternity ward are there to support both mother, baby and the partner, during these first days, making parenthood manageable and more pleasant. The nurses can discharge mom and baby free of worry, as the parents are enrolled in the digital carepath and have all information at hand. Parents can reach out to professionals with questions and concerns, which ensures that the newborn is released into a safe environment with prepared parents.
Modern Challenges Require Modern Solutions
In a previous blog post we have explored what postpartum care is and the challenges met in supporting mothers adequately directly after birth (read it from here). The blog described the serious shortage of midwives providing postpartum care after the clinic stay in Germany, leading to new mothers having only minimum care and support by midwives. With the BuddyCare services the mothers are going home with an at-home support system, helping to reduce the risk of complications or occurrences of unwanted events.
Education is key. Therefore, the digital carepath guides the parents to pay close attention to the baby’s weight gain, and provides instructions on how to take care of the baby’s belly button. It explains what nutrition is good for breastfeeding mothers, and what and how to perform the pelvic floor exercises. The goal is to strengthen the parents in their new role and increase their self-confidence when taking care of their baby.
By using the BuddyCare services, the maternity clinic can reduce the amount of reach-outs from mothers after giving birth, but still observe the progress of the mothers on their digital carepath. Through questionnaires data on their well-being and situation at home can be gathered and evaluated. The midwives are relieved from the stress of having to teach everything to the new mothers during the clinical stay, as the guidance and education is supported by the mobile app. The maternity ward may benefit from a calmer work environment and increased happiness at the workplace.
What clinic would not want to have a high reputation among pregnant women, and a high number of them to register for birth at your location? And still there is no need to turn down any of the moms-to-be because your clinic is enabled to care for all of them, as the processes are digitally supported and the parents digitally guided.
Are you interested to know how we can tailor this system to match your clinic's processes? Please contact us and let’s schedule a meeting about this topic.