WASHINGTON: A mobile app has been found to reduce in-person care visits during pregnancy while maintaining patient and provider satisfaction, according to a study.
The Babyscripts app was built to deliver educational content and remotely monitor blood pressure and weight, said researchers from George Washington University (GW) in the US.
The app provided patients information on topics like nutrition and breastfeeding, and also gave patients and providers early warnings about hypertension or abnormal weight gain, which could indicate gestational diabetes, nutritional deficiency, or edema associated with preeclampsia.
Some symptoms of preeclampsia may include high blood pressure and protein in the urine, occurring after week 20 of pregnancy.
"Prenatal care is one of the most widely utilised preventative health care services, however there is little research on the effectiveness of standard prenatal care," said Kathryn Marko, an assistant professor at GW.
"We wanted to reevaluate the model for low-risk pregnancies and see if a mobile prenatal app could remove barriers to access and reduce the burden on patients and the health care system," Marko said in a statement.
Studies have shown mobile technology can improve disease management for diabetes self-care activities, HIV infection medication adherence, and sickle cell anemia medication adherence.
The research, published in the journal 'JMIR mHealth and uHealth', hypothesised that mobile health apps could be just as transformative for prenatal care.
Eligible participants were women between ages 18 to 40 years.
They were considered low-risk -- a singleton pregnancy with no previous diagnosis of hypertension, diabetes, renal disease, collagen vascular disease, maternal substance abuse, or other previously documented condition that could potentially lead to a poor pregnancy outcome.
A total of 88 low-risk patients were enrolled in the study.
Patients who used the app saw their obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN) an average of 7.8 times.
Patients who did not use the app saw their OBGYN an average of 10.2 times, researchers found.
There was no statistical difference in patient or provider satisfaction in either group.
"While the results of our study were largely positive, more research is needed to determine the connection between mobile prenatal apps and maternal or fetal outcomes," said Andrew Meltzer, an associate professor at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
"There is a lot more potential for use of mobile prenatal apps for both patients and providers," Meltzer said.