NHMRC Funding To Improve Antenatal Care

A La Trobe University researcher has received almost $1 million in Federal Government funding to investigate ways to improve care for pregnant women.

Six projects will share in $5 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Targeted Call for Research funding round, aimed at identifying how telehealth can be used most effectively and appropriately.

Della Forster, Professor of Midwifery and Maternity Services Research with the Judith Lumley Centre and the Royal Women’s Hospital, received $999,585 for her team’s research into maternal and infant care.

Professor Forster’s research looks at whether a combination of telehealth and face-to-face visits for antenatal care results in improved patient experience and whether it as safe as standard face-to-face care.

“Pregnancy is an exciting time, and it can also be a daunting time, with quite a few check-ups needed during pregnancy, and a variety of factors that we need to monitor,” Professor Forster said.

“Video health appointments might ease the burden on expectant mothers, but we need to make sure nothing is missed, that women receive the same standard of care virtually, and that an approach like this does not introduce any inequities.”

The research will be undertaken at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne.

La Trobe University’s Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Industry Engagement) Professor Susan Dodds said the grant was recognition of the significance of Professor Forster’s work.

“We have seen the rise in the use of telehealth in the wake of the COVID pandemic and pregnant women are a cohort that could see real benefits from this technological uptake,” Professor Dodds said.

“Professor Forster’s research is important in that it could improve the lives of women and ensure safe outcomes for mothers and their children.”

The NHMRC Targeted Call for Research: Ensuring the quality and safety of telehealth 2023 grant opportunity was announced by the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler.

The funding aims to identify and understand factors that influence which populations, health conditions and interactions can be effectively managed by telehealth services and to develop tools and supports that assist health service providers select the most appropriate telehealth services and modalities.

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