2015 Press Releases

Partnership aims to make pregnancy safer

1 Oct 2015
Professor Louise Kenny: “This technology has the potential to revolutionise antenatal care for expectant mothers on a global scale."

The INFANT Centre (Irish Centre for Foetal and Neonatal Translational Research) at University College Cork, Bioscreen Health, laya healthcare and IBM have launched the ‘LEANBH’ project in the Cork University Maternity Hospital today, designed to make pregnancy safer.

The LEANBH research project is a pilot test to provide remote healthcare monitoring to expectant mothers in order to improve the detection and treatment of hypertension and pre-eclampsia during pregnancy.

Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication that affects approximately 5% of all pregnancies. Hypertension, one of the indicators of pre-eclampsia, is even more common.

The vision for LEANBH is to manage care for hypertension and pre-eclampsia in the patient’s home using remote monitoring of the medical data. It aims to reduce the number of unnecessary follow-on hospital visits, lowering the additional stress and cost of visits both to the patients and the healthcare system.

The world-leading INFANT Centre at Cork University Maternity Hospital is creating a patient-centric perinatal system that combines real-time remote monitoring technology via mobile with web-based advanced analytics and care management. An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, said, “The LEANBH project demonstrates the value of collaboration between industry and academia. It has the potential to have a global impact on the medical care offered to expectant mothers."

At INFANT, remote monitoring will be combined with predictive analytics that can enable faster responses and a higher quality of care through automated alerts to doctors. It also aims to help improve data sharing among the healthcare team members and offer the ability to integrate with electronic healthcare records.

Launching LEANBH, Professor Louise Kenny, Consultant Obstetrician and Director of INFANT, said “This technology has the potential to revolutionise antenatal care for expectant mothers on a global scale, and is another example of the cutting-edge research ongoing at INFANT. Making pregnancy safer is a core objective of our Centre”.

Healthcare researchers will be able to use predictive modelling, trending and scoring to anticipate patient outcomes and evaluate the potential effects of early interventions.

The research data from the pilot study will also provide capabilities to the Centre for devising new predictive models of perinatal healthcare monitoring, which can be used to identify and improve the outcome of pregnancy for both mothers and their babies.

Bill Kearney, Director IBM Ireland Analytics & Solutions Lab said, “Data insights and analysis can help healthcare providers move beyond a one size-fits-all approach and pinpoint individualised intervention for patients. The project can contribute to making the healthcare system more streamlined, efficient and effective as a whole.”

Speaking at the launch Dónal Clancy of laya healthcare said, “LEANBH is a revolutionary innovation in maternity care and we are delighted to be involved. Wenot only insure people in the here and now, we also look to the future and innovation. We want to do things better, more efficiently and use advances in technology to enhance a person’s health and life experience and that’s why we are involved with LEANBH.

“Listening to our members, we know how dangerous hypertension or pre-eclampsia are to the health of an expectant mother and her baby, and the stresses involved in trekking to hospitals for check-ups and overnight stays.  If an expectant mother does experience hypertension or pre-eclampsia – or is at risk of these conditions – we want to be able to support her and her wider family in the best way possible. Through LEANBH we hope the treatment she needs can be delivered in the safety and comfort of her home.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to work alongside world-renowned leading experts in this area such as Professor Louise Kenny. We also welcome the opportunity to deepen our existing relationship with Professor Higgins and all of the team at CUMH.”

Russell Quigley from Bioscreen Health added: “It is our mission to improve the health of those we serve with a commitment to excellence in all that we do. Our goal is to offer quality service and programs that set standards, exceed patients' expectations and are provided in a convenient, cost-effective and accessible manner. We look forward to contributing to the Leanbh project and being part of this incredible innovation.”

In addition, drawing on the insights gained from pre-eclampsia patients, medical teams at INFANT can case manage to create more personalised and shareable, coordinated electronic care plans that can support patient-centred medical homecare models for the baby’s early years.

Commenting on the launch, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “The innovative research taking place at INFANT highlights how the twelve SFI research centres in Ireland will change people’s lives for the better. Collaborations with industry such as the Leanbh project will lead to huge improvements in the care of newborns across the world. We look forward to building on this partnership and continuing to invest in research which delivers economic and societal impact.”

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF