Funding for technology to reduce hospital visits for pregnant women during COVID
Research led by Dr Fergus McCarthy, Consultant Obstetrician and Senior Lecturer, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and colleagues at the INFANT Research Centre have been awarded €118,877 in SFI funding in June 2020. The research is for a pilot project that aims to reduce the number of hospital check-up visits for pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study at Cork University Maternity Hospital will use remote technology to monitor blood pressure in pregnant women during the coronavirus pandemic, including inpatients and outpatients and Covid-positive and Covid-negative mothers.
If a pregnant woman’s blood pressure is too high for too long and left uncontrolled, it can affect the baby’s growth and may be a sign of a potentially life-threatening condition called pre-eclampsia.
In some cases, women with suspected high blood pressure may need to present at the hospital for extra check-ups as well as their routine consultations - something made more difficult during the current public health emergency.
Some 500 pregnant women in the project will use an automated device connected to the INFANT Research Centre’s LEANBH platform to measure their blood pressure and relay the results to the clinical team. The mothers can then be alerted if their care needs to change. The result should mean fewer mothers needing to personally attend outpatients in Cork University Maternity Hospital for blood-pressure monitoring. It will also allow closer monitoring of blood pressure in pregnancy than is currently the case.
Dr McCarthy said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to improve our care for pregnant women by offering them safe, accurate and convenient monitoring of their blood pressure in pregnancy in the comfort of their homes with results monitored by an in-house team of midwives and doctors.
“There is huge potential to extend this project nationally, and relook at how we offer care to all our pregnant women to ensure they have as safe a pregnancy as possible.”