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Digital maternity - harnessing digital technology in maternity services

NHS Digital is running four digital maternity projects, within the harnessing Digital Technology workstream, to help NHS England meet its objective of improving outcomes in maternity services in England and supporting the Long Term plan.

We are focused on delivering four main projects: interoperable maternity records, women’s digital care records, digital maturity and a digital toolset to help offer trusted and reliable sources of maternity information for women.

Top tasks

Read about the Digital Maternity Records Information Standard which starts in November 2019.  

Learn more about Women's Digital Care Records

Learn more about the Local Maternity Services (LMS) digital forums

Learn about how to develop your digital ambition, read the national maternity DMA Report and access additional resources to support your work. 

The Maternity Transformation programme

The Maternity Transformation Programme aims to make wide ranging improvements to maternity services following the National Maternity Review, and is an important part of the NHS Long Term plan which recommends, "by 2023/2024, all women will be able to access their maternity notes and information through their smart phones or other devices."

Following the National Maternity Review the maternity transformation programme was set up as an NHS programme with nine work streams aiming to make wider ranging improvements. The maternity transformation programme seeks to achieve the vision set out in Better Births by bringing organisations together to lead and implement the change. We are leading on workstream seven, Harnessing Digital Technology.

Illustration of the nine workstreams of the Maternity Transformation Programme, clustered around the programme values

We believe the key to this work's success is to continue to collaborate with health care professionals involved in maternity care, women and their families to make sure they remain at the heart of our work. 

We will continue to run networking forums, engaging with clinicians and local digital technology leads whilst recognising new digital innovations and opportunities available. 

Our vision for maternity services across England is for them to become safer, more personalised, kinder, professional and more family friendly; where every woman has access to information to enable her to make decisions about her care. 

Harnessing Digital Technology workstream

This work stream provides the digital elements of the Better Births vision. Better Births recommends if we are to improve the quality of care, learning and productivity, the NHS needs to make it much easier for health professionals to collect and share data with each other and with their patients.

This new way of working requires significant change to many and impacts all areas of the pregnancy pathways including ante-natal, labour and birth and all the post-natal period, across all health care. 

The Secretary of State refers to safety as the golden thread running through the Maternity Transformation programme. Making better use of data, improving women's experiences of care, and ensuring the maternity workforce has regular training will all make a significant contribution to safer maternity services.

We will continue to run networking forums, engaging with clinicians and local digital health care leaders.  

Better Births recommends that to improve quality of care, learning and productivity, the NHS needs to make it much easier for health professionals to collect and share data with each other and with their patients. The new model of care requires a significant change in the use and access of information to support continuity of care throughout the ante-natal, intrapartum and post-natal period. 

Digital maternity projects

We are leading on the Harnessing Digital Technology workstream. Within this work stream there are a number of projects including digital maternity interoperability, women's digital care records, digital toolset and assessing the digital maturity of maternity services across England. 

The Digital Maternity Interoperability project will enable maternity records to be exchanged between healthcare professionals and women, irrespective of their location or clinical system. As part of this project, the Digital Maternity Record will be published to improve the way information is shared between women, midwives, doctors, health care services and IT systems.

The Women's Digital Child Care Record (WDCR) project aims to continue to support maternity services within a pilot area and offers women digital versions of their care record by replacing traditional paper records and offering additional functionality. 

The Digital Toolset aims to improve personalisation and choice for women by offering access to unbiased, evidence based and locally specific information.  

The Digital Maturity Assessment (DMA) ran from April to June 2018, and was completed by all 136 maternity services providers in England. Findings were published and included a toolkit of resources maternity services can use to help with their digital progress

In addition to these projects, we also host an LMS Digital Leaders Forum and the Digital Midwives Expert Reference Group, bringing together service leaders interested in the digital maternity space. We are also creating a digital toolset to improve personalisation and choice for women by offering access to unbiased, evidence based and locally specific information.

Timescales

2017

Launched the Digital Midwives Expert Reference Group.

Developed a national standard for capturing women's pregnancy information in a consistent way.

2018

Launched the Local Maternity Systems (LMS) Digital Leaders Forum.

User research undertaken to understand what women want from digital technology when accessing maternity care.

Launched the women's digital care record project.

Worked with the Maternity Voices Partnership to capture women's views on digital technology in pregnancy.

Digital Maturity Assessment (local maternity services reports and national report published).

Maternity Record Standard finalised.

Improvements to the nhs.uk maternity pages after feedback from service users and clinicians.

Working collaboratively with the Royal College of Midwives to develop the role of the digital midwife.

Maternity Record Standard professionally endorsed (through the Professional Records Standards Body). 

2019

Strong focus on capturing the benefits the digital project achieve. User researchers work alongside women, midwives and projects to realise the benefits achieved.

Engaged with the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s consultation about our digital future in midwifery.

June 2019: saw 86,902 women offered digital care records in accelerator sites.

March 2019: LMS digital maturity workshops held around the country.

July 2019: saw a record number of Midwives attending the Digital Midwives Reference Group, with a membership of over 100 midwives.

July 2019: Wessex untethered personal health record project start to work with the Digital Maternity team at NHS Digital.

Coming up in 2019/2020

October 2019: research findings for personal health records to be published.

Autumn 2019: Information Standards Notice – Release 1: instructions to adopt the Maternity Record Standard.

March 2020: digital information integration of NHS.UK content/app maturity module.

March 2020:  100,000 women offered digital care records.

May 2020: National Record Locator private beta in Maternity Services (with continued user research and user acceptance testing).

2020- 2021

Spring: National Record Locator retrieval private Beta in maternity services (with continued user research and user acceptance testing)

Summer: Information Standards Notice Release 2: instructions for maternity interoperability capabilities

Autumn: public beta for Maternity interoperability capabilities and handover to live service. 

Benefits

Overall we aim to provide as many women as possible

  • with the opportunity or choice to use electronic maternity records to give them greater visibility, control and understanding of their health and related information
  • maximise the quality time spent between women and health care professionals, to improve communication and increase choice and personalisation of care, improve safety of care for women and their babies
  • reduce the cost of capturing and sharing information through multiple systems and improve data quality, making it easier to adopt and use technology. 

Contact details

If you have any queries or comments, or would like to sign up for access to our collaboration areas on Teams, please contact the Digital Maternity team at digitalmaternity@nhs.net.

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Last edited: 18 November 2019 6:58 pm