For many women, pregnancy is a time for immense joy and preparation for baby’s arrival. However, it can be a very challenging time for those women who have a high-risk pregnancy. An electronic health record (EHR) can be an effective way to document medical care during pregnancy, so that both mom and baby have the best outcome possible.
A 2011 study from the Journal of Political Economy found that expanded use of EHRs would substantially reduce infant mortality in the U.S. The study, called Can Healthcare IT Save Babies?, examined 12 years of data on infant death rates at hospitals without EHRs, as compared to those hospitals with EHRs, in more than 2,500 U.S. counties. Researchers worked to control factors like socioeconomic status that can influence infant mortality.
The study showed that “a 10 percent increase in hospital use of a basic EHR would save 16 babies for every 100,000 live births, and a complete national transition to EHRs would save an estimated 6,400 infants each year in the U.S.”
According to the data, each year approximately 18,000 babies die in the U.S. within 28 days of birth. By using an EHR, providers can more easily coordinate care between a woman’s primary care physician and her obstetrician, as well as with a specialist due to a high-risk pregnancy.
In Australia, one of the six states in the country (Victoria) has an interesting way of documenting women’s pregnancies to enable more coordinated care. The Victorian Maternity Record (VMR) is a handheld pregnancy record that women are supposed to carry with them to every physician appointment, and it’s free to use. According to the Victorian government, the record is meant to “encourage consistency of information, enhance communication between service providers and promote women’s involvement in decisions around their care.”
Since 2003, the Victorian government has made hospitals report against 10 performance indicators for maternity services, including outcomes for first-time mothers with uncomplicated pregnancies, women offered appropriate interventions for smoking and women who received appropriate breastfeeding advice and support.
The VMR helps manage and assess how Australian hospitals in the state are providing care to women, and the government describes key functions of the record as “risk minimization by access to a complete pregnancy record, improving provision of information given to women, improving consistency of information, enhancing continuity of care, improving communication between service providers and providing continuity of documentation between clinicians and sites.”
While Care360 EHR is designed for adoption and broad use by providers, physicians can definitely take a page from Australia and tailor EHR use to monitor and coordinate care for women. Care360 EHR can document a patient’s entire medical history, including pregnancies. This means that when it comes time for their next appointment, physicians using an EHR will have a comprehensive medical history at their fingertips.