Maternity Transformation Programme (MTP): Harnessing Digital Technology

Digital tools can help transform care for women and their families in maternity services. This film shows what the NHS is doing to support the maternity service in England to use these tools to provide personal and safe care.

Better Births recognised the important role that digital technology can play in transforming maternity services and made several recommendations on how it should be harnessed including:

  • investing in electronic, interoperable maternity records to reduce the administrative burden of information recording and sharing;
  • providing all women with access to comprehensive digital sources of information via a digital tool;
  • a digital tool or personal health record that interfaces with professionally held electronic maternity records so that the woman can access their records and receive personalised information;
  • the technological solutions must be accessible to women, families and professionals, particularly outside of the hospital setting

Led by NHS Digital, workstream 7 (Harnessing Digital Technology) of the Maternity Transformation Programme (MTP) is working to implement this vision. There are 4 digital maternity projects running within the workstream to help NHS England meet its objective of improving outcomes in maternity services in England.

1. Maternity Digital Maturity Assessment (DMA)

The National Maternity DMA report provides a rich, national picture of digital maturity in England. The report is supplemented by 44 Local Maternity System (LMS) reports, which provide bespoke recommendations to each LMS. The reports are designed to be used together and aim to equip maternity providers with insight and resources to aid local planning for the investment and adoption of digital technologies.

All maternity providers in England responded to the assessment during April-June 2018, which was used to measure the challenges facing each maternity service in implementing digital technologies.

To support digital leaders with their planning, NHS Digital have launched the online collaborative platform for the Maternity DMA toolkit. Access has been provided to all maternity providers in England including 44 LMS digital leaders. The platform hosts a range of useful resources including the Maternity DMA Data Viewer, a tool which enables users to interact with their DMA data, to gain insights by cutting and comparing the information in different ways based on their needs.

For more background on the project, see the NHS Digital website.

2. Interoperable Maternity Records

The first phase of the Digital Maternity Interoperability project was to create a professionally agreed standard for maternity records. NHS Digital now have a Maternity Record Standard relating to direct patient care. This will enable all maternity clinical systems to consistently capture information and ‘speak the same language’.

In autumn 2019, an Information Standards Notice (ISN) will be published by NHS Digital to announce the new Maternity Record Standard (under the Health & Social Care Act 2012). The ISN will include details on the standard and instructions for service providers – including timeframes and additional implementation guidance.

The second phase is ensuring we 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 Clinical Terminology and Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources). This will enable everyone involved in the woman’s maternity care, including women themselves, to have access to a standardised set of paperless, digital maternity records.

The third phase of the interoperability development will enable healthcare professionals to search for and retrieve maternity records. This will ensure the electronic maternity records are accessible at the point of care and support safer care for women and their babies. Electronic maternity records that can be shared will reduce the amount of paper used across the service.

3. Women’s Digital Care Record

In January 2018, Simon Stevens (NHS England Chief Executive) undertook an in-depth review of the potential activities associated with the ambition to provide women with access to their electronic maternity record. A new priority and expectation was given for NHS Digital and NHS England to progress with the implementation of electronic personal records for pregnant women, as a demonstrator for wider citizen enablement.

The Women’s Digital Care Records project supports women with the opportunity to contribute towards their record and promote a greater understanding of the care they receive.

NHS Digital have initiated projects across 20 sites in England working with women, maternity services and supportive system suppliers to provide a convenient means for pregnant women to use their digital care record.

As part of the Long Term Plan, we are committed to offering 100,000 women with access to their digital care record by March 2020, extending to all women by 2023/24.

4. A Digital Toolset

We aim to improve personalisation and choice for women by offering access to unbiased, evidence based and locally specific information. This includes information about people’s circumstances, choices available and their own personal care plans.

We are working with the NHS.uk team to update the content, structure, presentation and site navigation of the NHS.uk Maternity pages following feedback received from pregnant women.

We have made some important changes including:

  • new sign-posting links allowing users to get straight to the content they want
  • important information highlights on pages to make it clearer for pregnant women when they need to seek help
  • links to other useful and NHS approved apps within the NHS Health Apps Library
  • new pregnancy week by week content available about the baby’s development, changes to the woman’s body and what women should start thinking about at each stage of pregnancy.

Further information

For more information please visit the Digital Maternity Programme page.

If you have any queries or comments, please contact the Digital Maternity team at digitalmaternity@nhs.net.