Successful launch of the electronic maternity pass pilot project

Heidelberg 16 April 2008Every pregnant woman in Germany knows it and has it - the maternity pass. The 16 page blue-green booklet is used to document all important pregnancy and delivery information. Now, the Gynecological Hospital of the University of Heidelberg is testing an electronic pregnancy record in co-operation with seven gynaecologists in private practice and two hospitals for obstetrics that are part of the Rhine-Neckar Health Centers. Its purpose is to provide even better care to pregnant women.

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In the pilot project, the traditional paper-based maternity pass is supplemented with an electronic maternity pass in LifeSensor, the personal health record, offered by eHealth specialist InterComponentWare (ICW). Approximately 200 pregnant women will participate in the project, which will take between 12 and 15 months. It already has 55 participants. The pilot project will be accompanied by a scientific evaluation carried out by Forschung, Beratung + Evaluation GmbH (FB+E). FB+E currently offers the well-known preventive care programme BabyCare that provides pregnant women a customized analysis of their dietary and lifestyle habits as well as recommendations for a healthy pregnancy.

Introduced in 1961, the maternity pass has become a fixture in prenatal care in Germany. Every expecting mother is issued a maternity pass by her OB/Gyn as soon as the pregnancy has been confirmed. In the booklet, important information on the mother's health, e.g. blood type, hemoglobin ratio, results about infections (rubella, toxoplasmosis), and information relating to family risk factors as well as foetal information (position, weight, height) and the estimated due date are recorded. The maternity pass helps attending physicians and midwives to document the progression of the pregnancy and possible risks. The information entered in the pregnancy booklet also provides important information during the delivery or medical emergencies.

Much has changed since 1961. Pregnant women today expect more from health care and also the role of the OB/Gyn has changed since the 60s. And even though today approximately 70-80 percent of the pregnant women give birth to healthy children after an uncomplicated pregnancy, the risk of miscarriages, premature births or malformations still continues.

The electronic maternity pass is intended to modernize the current maternity pass system and to help reduce risks and complications. In addition, its goal is to strengthen the trans-sectoral collaboration of physicians and hospitals. The electronic maternity pass and the LifeSensor personal health record provide pregnant women with their health related information - anywhere and at any time. Doctor's visits and findings can be documented quickly and easily, doctor's appointments managed, or health information stored.

The electronic maternity pass is a feature of the LifeSensor personal health record and is provided free of charge to pregnant women participating in the pilot project. Only upon having obtained authorization from the pregnant woman, her OB/Gyn and other medical staff members can access, add to, and exchange her personal health related data. The OB/Gyn can use this information to develop personalized recommendations for preventive health care and discuss these with the patient.

The medical providers are using the ICW Practice Communication and Documentation Software (PCD) in order to optimize the information exchange between participating hospitals and practices. This way, they can transfer health related information directly into the pregnant woman's LifeSensor personal health record, and document the pregnancy in the electronic maternity pass. "The pilot project is the first and most important step towards medically optimized and at the same time personalized and patient-centred obstetrics. The electronic maternity pass will help lower negative consequences of risks for mother and child", explained Prof. Dr. med. Prof. h.c. Christof Sohn, Medical Director of the Gynecological Hospital of the University of Heidelberg.

The pilot project has been presented at the Gynecological Hospital of the University of Heidelberg. During a subsequent live demonstration at the Hospital and the offices of the OB/Gyns in private practice Dr. Jose Klapp und Marcela Klapp-Felfoul in Heidelberg, it was demonstrated how quickly and easily the trans-sectoral exchange of medical information can be done today.

InterComponentWare is an international eHealth specialist with locations in Germany, the United States, Austria, Switzerland, and Bulgaria. Its solutions for networking the various players in the health care system lastingly improve process-oriented communication and data integrity, and therefore also the quality of health care. Among other things, ICW develops and distributes software and hardware components for the health care IT infrastructure for electronic health cards, the LifeSensor personal health record as well as networking solutions for hospitals and physician offices.

As part of the bIT4health consortium, ICW provided important consulting services for the implementation of the electronic health card in Germany, is involved in the Austrian eCard project and has recently won the pilot project for the national health card in Bulgaria. More company news is available in the VMW April 2008 article InterComponentWare looks to integrate PHRs with iPhone and establishes Global Standards Office.


Leslie Versweyveld

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