Skip to main content

Interoperable maternity records

The Digital Maternity Interoperability project aim is to share digital maternity records between healthcare professionals and women, irrespective of their location or clinical system.

The digital maternity record will replace the paper notes a pregnant woman has traditionally carried during her pregnancy.

Initially we are focusing on improving the data flow between maternity systems, but ultimately, we aim to include all those involved in supporting maternity care, including GPs, sonographers, pathology, and health visitors.  This will enable information to be shared in a seamless way regardless of the digital system in use or its location, solely for the purposes of direct care. 

By having access to all the information available, healthcare professionals will be able to provide more focused, individualised care and therefore improve the experience for the woman and her family.  It will also enable women to have a more active role in their own pregnancy care.

The project has three main phases:

  • create a professionally agreed standard for maternity records. This will enable all maternity clinical systems to store data in a consistent way and "speak the same language"
  • use standard terminology within the maternity record and its messaging to ensure that different systems can share and interpret the information in the record (this will use SNOMED CT and FHIR)
  • allow healthcare professionals to search for, retrieve and subscribe to updates within maternity records so they will have the latest information when providing care. This will link to the National Record Locator service (NRL) and National Events Management System (NEMS) over time. 

What we have done so far

We have been working closely with women, midwives, clinicians and other staff within maternity services to better understand their user needs. 

Our work so far includes:

  • a fully supported maternity record standard for direct care
  • a clear understanding of what will be needed to enable interoperable record sharing. Including FHIR, SNOMED, APIs, data models, implementation and supplier guidance
  • working with maternity services through the Digital Midwives Expert Reference Group and Local Maternity Services Digital Leaders Forum
  • Working with suppliers at events in November 2018 and July 2019
  • development of 40+ use cases, identifying where information may flow, for what purpose and the benefits this may bring for maternity care
  • assurance of the use cases from a multi-profession expert panel
  • the production of an information standards notice and guidance material to support maternity services in implementing the Digital Maternity Record Standard, which was published in November 2019.  

Next steps

We continue to work with women, midwives, clinicians and support staff to gain a deeper understanding of their user needs, tasks, pain points and opportunities in managing health and care information in pregnancy.

This will help us to map the current experiences of the pregnancy journey, as maternity providers move from paper to digital records and personal health records become more widely available. 

The findings from our research will inform the development of future phases of the digital maternity interoperability project and the personal health record project, and help us measure programme benefits.

We are currently working with the maternity system supplier market to support the changes needed and offering guidance and expertise.

We are working with other specialist departments to develop the capabilities required to enable information to flow between systems.  We are also consulting on the technical specifications with clinicians, suppliers and other stakeholders.

If you have any questions or would like to know more you can contact us by emailing us at digitalmaternity@nhs.net

Service benefits

Benefits to women

Women should have a more positive experience as they will no longer need to repeat their story when engaging with different health care professionals, as their maternity record will be available when needed.  It will also enable women to have a more active role in their own care through access and interaction with their maternity record.

Benefits to health care professionals

 Healthcare professionals will have all the information they need in a timely manner so they can make decisions on the best type of care required for each individual woman, irrespective of location or clinical system used. There will be less need for staff to re-key information, reducing the likelihood of errors, lessening the administrative burden, and improving outcomes for women and babies in their care.

Benefits to the NHS

Reducing the cost of capturing and sharing information through multiple systems and improving access to data for direct care.  Supporting new practices will save clinicians time, reduce the administrative burden and allow staff to spend more quality time with women and their families.  

Related pages

  1. internal

    Digital toolset

    The digital toolset is being created to improve personalisation and choice for women by offering access to unbiased, evidence based and locally specific information.

Last edited: 17 February 2020 12:47 pm