Press release date 26/08/2020
A national network of ‘digital midwives’ is helping to harness the power of technology to improve maternity care for women up and down the country. From a smartphone app that enables women to access their maternity notes anytime, anywhere – to the digitisation of patient records that reduces paperwork for staff – exciting changes are taking place for expectant mothers.
Leicester’s Hospitals very own Digital Midwife Emma Hales is one of more than 150 professionals in this role in the UK and thinks this much needed resource is key to improving outcomes for our patients. She said: “There are exciting changes in the pipeline that will make the patient journey for expectant mothers much easier. Clinicians will be able to access patient records no matter where the patient presents and patients themselves will have access to many more digital resources. This shift in technology will increase choice and personalisation and empower women to take greater ownership of their maternity care.”
Emma’s role is new to Leicester’s Hospitals and will initially see her focusing on the upgrade of the maternity E3 system - the record of a woman’s pregnancy from initial booking through to discharge. Work is also in progress to then link other elements of the pregnancy journey to this system including growth charts for pregnant women (GROW), access to scan reports and other vital information.
Emma’s role covers Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester General Hospital and community midwifery. In the community, Emma has been working with midwives on digital exemption certificates for pregnant women which enable them to access services like NHS dentistry for free. Most areas still currently process this through a postal paper form, which in turn means the generation of a plastic card for the woman to keep throughout pregnancy and for a year afterwards. The digital method is faster and can be returned to the woman in a digital format, resulting in savings of both time and money.
Emma carries out her role as Digital Midwife role two days a week, continuing her role as a Community Midwife on two other days. Emma believes her digital role and other digital ‘specialist’ roles like it will become the norm: “People are more confident with technology now and can see the benefits of saving time through optimised care. I am confident we will be able to streamline the maternity pathway for expectant mothers and ultimately be able to deliver care to suit them.
“The role has been a huge learning curve for me and very challenging but is now very much part of my career. It is great to be driving the change for pregnant women in Leicester and exciting to see one of the world’s oldest professions as it continues to evolve.”