Digital pregnancy care model motivates women to eat well


Pregnant women receiving gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) care at Mater Mothers’ Hospital are benefitting from an enhanced patient experience thanks to a “radical” woman-focussed and digitally supported service redesign, a new study had found.

Findings from the Mater Research-led study recently published in Practical Diabetes are overwhelmingly positive, with 92 per cent of participants surveyed four weeks postpartum highly satisfied with the care they’ve received.

Director of Obstetric Medicine at Mater Mothers’ Hospital and study lead author Dr Jo Laurie said that GDM is the most common medical disorder caused by pregnancy.

“Up to one in six pregnant women in Australia are diagnosed with GDM. The Mater Mothers’ Hospital diabetes service cares for approximately 1,200 women each year with this condition, traditionally requiring women to attend between 10 and 15 appointments at the hospital,” Dr Laurie said.

The joint Mater Research and Mater Mothers’ Hospital project was designed to provide women with substantial cost savings without compromising clinical outcomes and has resulted in a dramatically reduced schedule of visits.

“The result is a new model of care that women can participate in from the privacy of their own home through education videos and the CSIRO ‘M♡THer’ smart phone app/portal,” Dr Laurie said.

More than 87 per cent of women reported a high level of satisfaction with the app, and the majority reported that the app made them feel confident in managing their GDM.

Mater Researcher and Obstetric Medicine Project Officer at Mater Mothers’ Hospital Associate Professor Shelley Wilkinson said that the new model of care has saved women costs associated with more appointments, such as transport, parking, childcare costs, and time off work.

“Our latest data has also provided us with patient perspectives, with women telling us that despite the removal of face-to-face visits, they were able to establish a connection with their treating team and maintained their understanding of their GDM management,” A/Prof Wilkinson said.

“Women told us that they liked knowing that their healthcare team was monitoring them without the need for them to come into hospital, and that the encouraging text messages from their treating doctor motivated them to keep eating well as they knew our team were keeping a close eye on their progress.”

A/Prof Wilkinson said that the next step for the research team is to further enhance the experience of women from more diverse backgrounds.

“Our research should examine specific perspectives of women from more diverse backgrounds and more broadly, app developers should continue to follow person-centred design principles as well as adopt proven behaviour change techniques for effective, broad reach public health benefits,” A/Prof Wilkinson said.

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Learn more about Mater Research’s Mother and Baby research programs.

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