Few public services have remained as unchanged for generations as the maternity clinic card. For decades, mums-to-be in Finland have preciously guarded the little notebook and its contents – hand-written notes by medical staff, detailing each stage of the mother’s pregnancy. But now Tampere is the first city in Finland to trial an electronic maternity record service alongside the traditional card. Supported by Sitra, the Hervanta and Muotiala maternity clinics have been testing the new pregnancy monitoring service since the summer of 2013.
Most maternity clinic clients who have tested the electronic maternity record service find it convenient and easy-to-use. A total of 42 clients from 112 families responded to a survey conducted by the City of Tampere, designed to gauge opinion.
According to respondents, the new electronic system was commended as convenient and modern, its best feature being the fact that, unlike its paper equivalent, it cannot be left at home or lost. Another useful feature was the option of completing the maternity clinic’s preliminary information form electronically.
But those in Tampere who took part in the trial also noted some drawbacks. For instance, families were insufficiently aware of the service’s mobile use features. Among other things, the option of using the electronic maternity record service for blood pressure measurements and other screenings conducted at home was left untried by the respondent families. Users were also of the opinion that maternity clinic and hospital staff were as yet unfamiliar with the service.
One of the participants in the trial, Helianna Hartikainen, suggests both maternity clinic customers and personnel should be made thoroughly familiar with the new service. She runs the popular blog Äitiyshousut (Maternity pants), and characterises the electronic maternity record as a convenient, easy-to-use service. However, emotional ties with the old card remain strong.
“You can put your hands on an old notes card and it is a concrete memento of maternity clinic visits during pregnancy,” she says. “The clear advantage of the electronic service lies in not needing to remember to bring anything along to the maternity clinic appointment. And the electronic maternity record is certainly a development for the future.”
Feedback from clients and professionals
The clients and staff of the Hervanta and Muotiala maternity clinics are participating in the electronic maternity card pilot as test users. Follow-up surveys will continue next summer and in the early autumn, as the service is developed on the basis of feedback from the pilot project.
“Based on the feedback received, we have developed the service in collaboration with employees and clients,” says City of Tampere Project Manager Tiina Karttunen. “The aim was to find solutions that genuinely ease the work of professionals and clients in maternity clinics and that enable smoother communication. The pilot has provided a concrete demonstration of how important it is to listen to users.”
She continues: “While there is demand for electronic services among clients, the needs and skills related to using these services vary individually. Feedback indicates that it would be wisest to focus on basic features that save time and effort, and on the thorough familiarisation of all users with the service.”
Piloted in Tampere, the service provides the information given on the traditional maternity notes card, but in electronic format. This is accompanied by electronically completed preliminary information and questionnaire forms for maternity clinics, and an optional pregnancy journal for the mother-to-be. The service can be used on any computer or mobile device, based on personal user IDs.
The aim of the electronic maternity record service is to expand the possibilities for electronic transactions between clients, maternity clinics and maternity hospitals. For the duration of the pilot project, the service will include an electronic communication link with each user’s maternity clinic. The mother-to-be plays an active role as the user, provider and owner of information. The electronic maternity record is a Taltioni service.
Sitra is acting as the project partner. Via pilot projects, Sitra is involved in the development of user-oriented electronic services for health promotion.
“Maternity clinics are one of the jewels in the crown of Finnish healthcare,” says Marja Pirttivaara, Senior Lead at Sitra. “Tampere has boldly met the challenge of renewing its operations and services. We hope that the electronic maternity record will be in use throughout Finland five years from now. This will also provide excellent export opportunities.”
The iPana Äitiys service, Intelligent Patient Archives for Neonatal and Antenatal Services, was developed by Mediware Oy (website in Finnish only).
Read more: Sähköistä äitiyskorttia testattiin kahdessa neuvolassa (bulletin by the City of Tampere, in Finnish, 5 March 2014)