Gestational diabetes app supporting flexible care for parents-to-be

30/Jul/2020     HealthMater Mothers' Hospital

Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, Mater Mothers’ Hospital and Redland Hospital in Brisbane have fast-tracked an app to support pregnant patients with gestational diabetes and reduce their need to visit hospital.  

Aimed at making life a little easier for the one in 10 pregnancies diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the new M♡THer platform looks to help patients better manage and track their condition at home.

With development fasttracked to minimise the need for patients to come into hospital throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the platform is now being rolled out in a widespread clinical trial across a range of up to 1000 patients at Mater Mothers' Hospitals in Brisbane and Redland Hospital—taking the app one step closer to being more widely available in the future. 

CSIRO project lead Dr Marlien Varnfield said while social distancing was critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19, an unintended consequence was a drop in patient attendances at hospitals and health check-ups for managing existing health conditions.

"While we're fighting COVID-19, it’s also critically important to consider our long-term health outcomes by proactively taking care of our health and wellbeing rather than waiting for issues to escalate before seeking care,” Dr Varnfield said.

“Patients and health services around Australia are embracing telehealth and mobile health solutions like M♡THer to deliver preventative health care remotely throughout this pandemic, and this will continue to be useful even outside of the pandemic.”

Originally developed by CSIRO’s Australian e-Health Research Centre (AEHRC) in collaboration with Queensland’s Metro South Hospital and Health Service, the M♡THer platform is available in several languages, designed to replace manual paper-based record keeping by allowing a patient's clinical team monitor key health indicators remotely with patients recording information such as blood sugar levels, blood pressure, weight, diet and exercise directly to the app. 

This information is uploaded to the linked clinician portal, so their dietitian, diabetes educator, midwife and obstetrician are able to monitor their progress in real time and intervene if required—such as calling a patient to give specific, immediate advice if their blood sugar levels have changed too much.

Brisbane mum of three, Stacey Bailey, has been one of the first patients at Mater Mothers’ Hospital  to take part in the trial.

“Having experienced gestational diabetes with my previous pregnancy, as a full-time working mum with other kids, I have experienced first-hand how inconvenient and anxiety-inducing this kind of diagnosis can bring on your everyday life,” Ms Bailey said.

“I am now able to do my daily testing directly through the app and have my doctor and nursing team communicate with me via text, app notification or phone call for any treatment I may need.”

“It brings me a lot of peace of mind knowing my medical team are getting regular updates on my insulin levels and symptoms and can notify me quickly if I should need help.”

Obstetric medicine specialist at Mater Mothers’ Dr Jo Laurie said the M♡THer app was a life- and time-friendly innovation for a wide range of women across various stages of pregnancy.

“The M♡THer app has been created to see greater efficiencies for both healthcare providers and for expectant mothers,” Dr Laurie said.

“In reducing their need to come into hospital, the app provides expectant mothers with the ability to have support tailored to their individual needs and the added flexibility to manage their healthcare needs around their everyday lives.

“Providing women with the support they need from their very own mobile device is just another way that we are taking the clinical care and expertise at Mater Mothers’ beyond our hospital walls.”

Pictured: Stacey Bailey.

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