Midwives working in the North-West London Early Adopter (EA) project team led on a programme to implement a digital App in the 6 maternity units across the North-West London Local Maternity System. The EA project team are within the Acute Care Transformation Team, part of the North-West London Health and Care Partnership. The App aims to improve outcomes, experience and use of resources across the locality.
The “mum & baby” app already existed within one Trust in the sector, with its focus being on the postnatal experience. The Early Adopters project identified an opportunity to develop the App to cover the entire maternity pathway and serve all North-West London maternity services/users to address the unwarranted variation being seen in experiences and outcomes.
Before the launch of the revised mum and baby App, maternity service users in North-West London had to rely on a variety of sources to find out information about provision of care, health related information and local services. There was a high level of unwarranted variation in access to, and reliability of, information.
Better Births (2016) highlighted the importance of providing comprehensive information at all stages of the maternity experience, in an easily accessible format, but also to facilitate women’s choice and personalisation of care. Through development of the digital application, consistent high-quality information could be made easily available to users, contributing towards the safety and perinatal mental health ambitions. Additionally, it was intended that the new App would act as a single point of access / ‘digital front door’ for self-referral to the 6 maternity units, supporting local systems to fast track the implementation of recommendations from Better Births.
Once agreed by the Local Maternity System board, the Early Adopters Project Team, the project was led by a Midwife Project Manager with an interest in digital technology. The midwife provided project management of the App expansion and development from the start to the launch.
Taking a whole system approach to the design and development of the App, a core value of the project was ‘collaboration’. Midwives from across the sector were invited to participate in the development of the content. Suggestions were received from those with specialist interest in infant feeding, antenatal/postnatal care, high dependency, home birth, bereavement care amongst others. Student midwives were also invited to participate along with health visitors, physiotherapists and perinatal mental health nurses. Third sector, professional bodies and local authorities were also encouraged to contribute. Service users and their families made a significant contribution to the content development.
A working group, including IT lead midwives, consultant midwives, Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) chairs and consultant obstetricians from each of the maternity trusts, were appointed to review and approve the content, with final sign off by the Local Maternity System (LMS) board.
Women are attending appointments with a better understanding of the service and of what to expect which means they are better prepared and the consultation can be used to benefit them the most. Service users have quicker access to information to support their choices and manage their own health.
The team has received positive feedback from the women who have already accessed the App.
“I never knew there was so much to know and this App helps to keep it all in one place. Easy to use. Brilliant.”
“It has done so much to help me understand what to expect during pregnancy and birth.”
Staff report that the App has streamlined processes for women leading to less duplication which has freed up clinician time. Owing to the success of “mum and baby” in North-West London, the LMS has developed a Business Case to enable other Local Maternity Systems to purchase and adapt the App for their own use. Maternity units across the sector are continuing to collaborate closely on the production of information. They are working closely with their communications teams to integrate the App with their maternity websites.