Most babies born today are birthed the same way they were 100 years ago, but technology associated with childbirth has changed tremendously. Technological advancements with prenatal care have helped save the lives of thousands of mothers and babies thanks to early diagnosis and intervention.
Examples of technology innovations include ultrasonography for diagnosis of genetic problems and growth disorders, previously undiagnosed until delivery; better detection of elevated blood pressure and diabetes; and ultrasound testing for biophysical profiles. Here are a few more.
Non-invasive prenatal testing is where blood is drawn as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy to diagnose genetic disorders (and gender, if wanted). NIPTs use fetal DNA samples, which lowers the chance of a false positive. Available methods prior to NIPT couldn’t draw until at least week 16 and often ended in false test results.
Although no genetic test can change the genetic outcome, NIPT does allow for early diagnosis so patients and their families can seek out a pediatric specialist or support group while identifying precautions needed prior to birth.
The introduction of Electronic Medical Records systems has improved documentation and information distribution between hospitals and providers. EMR also offers protocols in the EMR software when a patient has complications.
“EMR allows us to not only ensure protocols are followed but to track the successes and failures of such programs,” says Dr. Sharla Shipman, founder of the Women’s Clinic of Johnson County. “We can also have EMR pop-ups or red flags for medication interactions, allergies and protocol steps that cannot be skipped.”
Wireless portable monitors attached to expecting mothers assess contractions and fetal wellbeing without the need for patients to be stationary. Some monitors are even waterproof, so they can be used in the bathtub.
“By using these devices, an expecting mother is able to walk and move freely during labor while reliably monitoring the fetal heartbeat,” says Dr. Malorie Howe, osteopathic physician at Women’s Health Associates. “This allows nurses and physicians to monitor the baby while the mother is laboring in a way that is comfortable for her.”
Mahmee, which recently received investments from Serena Williams and Mark Cuban, is a HIPAA-secure care management platform that makes it easy for payers, providers and patients to coordinate comprehensive prenatal and postpartum health care from anywhere.
The app connects patients with a network of medical professionals including physicians, nurses, lactation consultants, midwives, nutritionists and therapists. This ecosystem helps care teams closely monitor the health of mom and baby so red flags for pregnancy and postpartum issues can be identified early.
“l love the idea of this app,” Shipman says. “The goals are perfect, but getting it into action and equally available to all patients will be the hard part. We need to find a modern way to share our experience and guidance with the women of today and women of all cultures, races, and backgrounds.”