The digital possibilities in maternity care

By Hermione Jackson, Digital Midwife Project Advisor on 16 March 2021

The use of digital technology in the NHS has long lagged behind what is possible, and there are new technologies becoming available all the time. Maternity services are often left behind during digital transformation within hospitals and are not making best use of what is there for the taking.

Women using maternity services and maternity staff are familiar with modern technologies in their personal lives but this does not always translate into our services. We do not always see how these can be used effectively to improve our practice and the experience of women during their pregnancy journey.

Did you know electronic records could increase time spent providing direct care from 30 per cent to 70 per cent? This technology can also save time spent on unnecessary midwifery administration and release time for clinical care. It can also resolve miscommunication between health professionals and can ease a woman’s access to her medical record and health information to support decision making in her pregnancy.

When it comes to the equality of digital technology used in maternity, there are disparities across the UK. It is imperative that all maternity services review their use of digital and implement what is currently available to them.

When it comes to driving digital transformation, we need to invest in midwifery digital leaders to ensure that digital services meet the clinical needs of midwives and improve the experience and outcomes for the women that use the services too. Despite many policies and calls for improved use of digital, we are slow to make these evaluations and reap the plentiful benefits.

Some of us may think that going into digital takes away from holistic care, but this couldn’t be further from the reality. We see digital technologies accommodate more accurate data which ultimately leads to improved understanding of outcomes for women and can drive improvements in the service for women. We must encourage our colleagues to see the benefits and support them in training. This technology is there for the taking, it’s established in our personal lives so why not take the reins and apply it to our working lives too?

The RCM position statement on the use of digital technology highlights the expectation for maternity services to improve their use of digital technologies and ensure that they have adequate digital leadership to drive these changes.

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