Since 2017, pregnant women with an increased risk of complications can be monitored at home via SAFE@Home. This e-health program was developed by UMC Utrecht in collaboration with Luscii, a supplier of apps for remote care. Results of a pilot study show that this method of home monitoring leads to fewer clinic visits, fewer ultrasounds and fewer admissions among the participants. The program is now expanding further, with the Jeroen Bosch Hospital being the first to participate in the follow-up study.
In 2016, gynaecologist Dr. Mireille Bekker took the initiative in introducing this new method of monitoring. “I wanted to modernise care for pregnant women, so they would only have to visit the hospital if it was really necessary. That’s how I came up with SAFE@Home”. In Luscii, she found a partner who had the innovative technology readily available and a successful collaboration was set in motion.
In the app, women can measure their blood pressure at home and fill in a questionnaire. This data is forwarded to the hospital. If one of the values falls outside the threshold, the healthcare provider will be notified. The gynaecologist or midwife can then get in touch via the app or telephone to give the pregnant woman the appropriate advice. The app is combined with a care path of a minimum number of hospital visits.
A recent publication in the international trade journal, Pregnancy Hypertension, documented the results of the pilot study of 103 patients. The study showed fewer clinic visits, fewer ultrasounds and fewer admissions related to hypertension in the SAFE@Home group, compared to patients who received regular care. The pregnancy outcomes remained the same.
Both the pregnant women and the professionals were very positive about working with SAFE@Home; pregnant women also indicated that they felt safer with this form of monitoring. Bekker: “Via SAFE@Home, we can monitor the well-being of patients more effectively. This enables us to take appropriate action to prevent unnecessary hospital visits, diagnostics and probably even admissions“.
Follow-up study SAFE@Home II
After an initial pilot study, the SAFE@Home II follow-up study will begin in October, and several hospitals will be able to participate in the program. Bekker: “This will give us a good insight into aspects concerning upscaling and implementation, as well as the effect on medical outcomes. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also witnessed an additional need for “the right care in the right place”, and telemonitoring such as SAFE@Home contributes to this“. The Prevention Early Diagnosis and E-Health Foundation, and Health Holland, a program of the Top Sector Life Science and Health, are making a research and development subsidy available for this purpose. UMC Utrecht is coordinating the study.
Jeroen Bosch Hospital first participant
Dr. Jacques Dirken, gynaecologist at the Jeroen Bosch Hospital, explains the participation of SAFE@Home within the Jeroen Bosch Hospital. “Just like in Utrecht, we already worked with remote CTGs (heart monitors) to keep an eye on the baby in the womb, with SAFE@Home we can also monitor the mother’s blood pressure. These are two important parameters for monitoring a pregnancy, and now we can do both from home. This is a fantastic innovation, which means we can anticipate possible complications more quickly and reduce the need for pregnant women to visit the hospital”.
Gynaecologist Dirken expects approximately 50 patients from the Jeroen Bosch Hospital to participate in the study. With the implementation of this modern care, more control is also given to the patient. “As pregnant women now regularly measure their blood pressure and complete a questionnaire, they learn to assess what the values mean. Because of this insight, I expect them to be more actively involved in their pregnancy and the care that surrounds it”.