The Move to Virtual Midwifery and Benefits of Electronic Patient Records
Emma Price, Wellbeing Digital Midwife, discusses the shift to remote maternity appointments during the pandemic, and the role of electronic patient records in the transition.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, pregnant women were quickly identified as being part of the clinically vulnerable group, which meant a significant proportion of maternity care was moved to a virtual model, along with a reduction in nonessential hospital appointments.
While the average low risk pregnancy requires 7-10 antenatal appointments, high risk patients could require up to three times more. In addition to this increase, specialisation means that women might attend extra specialist care appointments for support with mental wellbeing or diabetes. This meant that moving many non-essential appointments to a virtual model was an enormous task.
Virtualising maternity care
Maternity departments have worked incredibly hard to ensure consistent high-quality care for patients during the pandemic. They have replicated the in-person appointment structure as closely as possible to prevent details being overlooked as the appointments move to telephone or video consultations.
Maternity care is different from other areas of healthcare in that the majority of pregnant women keep hold of their written notes so that they are readily available for each health professional they see, and also on hand in the case of an emergency. This presents a significant challenge when moving antenatal clinics to a virtual model.
Some clinicians have responded to this partly by taking advantage of more lenient rules around data sharing. For example, at the University Hospitals of Leicester, doctors and midwives are using WhatsApp to share clinical information, allowing the women to send scans and growth charts prior to the clinics or email them to a centralised mailbox. The Trust have also created a ‘virtual clinic proforma’ to help gather relevant information which means clinicians would then have a centralised care management plan with associated notes. However, the pregnant woman is still in possession of her own paper copy of her notes, meaning that duplication is necessary to ensure complete records are available at all times.
While it is admirable that obstetric and midwifery teams have adapted so well in these difficult circumstances, the pandemic has highlighted the need to accelerate the digitisation of patient records in maternity.
Going digital with Euroking
It is hard to overstate the positive effect that digitised records and comprehensive electronic patient data could have on our health system, with measurable improvements to clinical outcomes and a reduction in administrative tasks. Now more than ever, digital services enable Trusts to communicate virtually to ensure continuity of care during these challenging times.
Wellbeing’s Euroking Maternity Information System (MIS) provides a comprehensive and intuitive platform for healthcare professionals involved in the delivery of maternity services. This centralised record-keeping can help maternity services up and down the country transition seamlessly to virtual appointments, enabling users to easily access medical records and obtain information relating to patients during pregnancy. The information can also be integrated with other disciplines, allowing multidisciplinary teams to have access to the same records and collaborate on the best care management plan for each pregnancy.
Euroking also features additional modules such as Intrapartum which delivers safer care for women by providing real-time electronic monitoring of observations during labour, Community Offline, a mobile system that facilitates effective care in the community, and Personal Health Records to empower women with access to their maternity records and removes paper-led processes in support of the Better Births Initiative and paperless mission.