We can move to new ways of working

Our latest forum “The Role of Integrated Digital Healthcare in Preventing Gestational Diabetes” took place on 24th November 2022. The forum featured presentations from Lois Mellor and Mary Brosnan, both Directors of Midwifery at hospitals in the UK and Ireland, as well as from the Bump2Baby and Me Project Coordinator, Sharleen O’Reilly, and Clinical Trials Manager, Aisling Geraghty.

Lois gave her perspective on the current challenges faced in both Doncaster & Bassetlaw NHS Trust and UK maternity care. They included the need for more midwives due to high vacancy levels, negative press around maternity care, staff burnout, and increasing complexity of patients’ needs resulting in increasing levels of care required. In the UK, addressing national reports and implementing a complex maternity transformation programme provides additional time pressures but is welcomed because there are positive outcomes already being seen through reduced levels of morbidity and mortality.

The key to delivering maternity care for women through the pandemic was to be adaptable to keep everyone safe. Both the UK and Ireland midwifery teams have demonstrated that looking for and implementing new ways of working can prove successful. These have included using digital solutions for monitoring glucose levels for women with preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

Digital healthcare is the way forward

Mary explained that at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, they turned to digital solutions when in person clinics were suspended during the pandemic. Their service now includes:

  • Virtual gestational diabetes monitoring clinics;
  • Virtual lifestyle education class with live chat function;
  • Virtual clinical consultations enabling women to see a midwife and dietitian to review their progress from home, instead of travelling to the hospital every three weeks or so;
  • Bluetooth-enabled glucose monitoring meters, used in conjunction with a phone app, recording all the readings for the women and allowing the data to be downloaded by the hospital team.

Early analysis is showing that there’s been no reduction in care and increased engagement with women, as well as projected savings in the region of 75-100k Euros.

Prevention is key

One of the points raised during the forum was about the lack of awareness that gestational diabetes can lead to future health issues in both mothers and their children. So, although for most women, once their baby is born, the diabetes goes away, we also know that women with gestational diabetes are about 10 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes around 5-10 years later.

The Bump2Baby and Me intervention was designed with raising the potential long-term effects of gestational diabetes in mind, as well as to help prevent maternal and child diabetes, overweight and obesity and other non-communicable associated diseases.

Early life is a critical window of opportunity for prevention of these diseases. That’s why the Bump2Baby and Me mHealth Coaching Programme provides support to women both during pregnancy and for one year postpartum. By trying to bridge the gap in maternity (hospital) and postpartum (community) care, the Programme helps women to feel supported following the birth of their child and hopefully provides the children born in the study with the best start in life.

A recording of the forum is available below. To register your interest for future forums please contact us.