Pregnancy app changes way expectant moms and caregivers communicate

WASHINGTON — The old expression about being forewarned is forearmed is playing out in a modern way, with a new smartphone app being used by midwives and expectant moms.

“I have to admit that when we first piloted this [last year], I was really curious. People are going to love this, or they’re going to hate it,” said Loral Patchen, section director for midwifery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “People really liked it.”

The Babyscripts app allows caregivers to send patients weekly information that’s specifically tailored to their “gestational age” and situation. It can help them day-to-day and lead to more constructive conversations when it’s time for a checkup.

“We both have a common framework and they’ve had some time to think about the information and the questions they’d like to ask us,” Patchen said.

“Versus an information dump, we try to do quickly in a brief appointment.”

At weeks six through eight, for example, expectant moms might learn about nausea and vomiting, different comfort measures for that or signs of discomfort that require a call to the doctor’s office.

A patient also might learn about and decide how she feels about a particular genetic test before discussing it with a caregiver.

The app also has a feature that allows for home monitoring of weight and blood pressure.

“Then, if your blood pressure is in a range where it could be potentially problematic — we set certain thresholds — it automatically notifies us, so we can follow up with the patient in real time,” Patchen said.

Locally, the Babyscripts app is being used at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and George Washington Medical Faculty Associates.

Around the country, the app is in use at health systems such as Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, Florida Hospital in Orlando, UT Physicians in Houston and Carolinas Healthcare in North and South Carolina.

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