Accurate monitoring of the body changes during pregnancy can provide tailored pregnancy monitoring. Indeed, specific changes in weight distribution and body shape can lead to or signal the development of secondary conditions such as excessive weight gain, obesity, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia or the need for a caesarean delivery. There is currently a lack of solutions allowing women to regularly self-assess changes in body shapes and other important risk factors over time especially for those women in remote areas and those at risk of experiencing adverse health outcomes. The increase in access and use of smartphone apps presents an opportunity to transform and improve current health monitoring, especially for people residing in remote areas or disadvantaged communities. Our objective is to develop a new smartphone pregnancy app that will utilise machine learning technology to automatically extract body measurements from images taken by pregnant women. The app solution will also permit women to share their health data to their chosen healthcare professional in real-time.
In order to design this app, we first wanted to better understand the needs of both pregnant women and their healthcare professionals and identify the existing gaps in self-monitoring during pregnancy. To do so, we surveyed pregnant women and healthcare professionals to understand their current views about the use of digital health tools and the app we are designing. The aim of this study is to assess: 1) pregnant women's current use of pregnancy apps, 2) pregnant women’s acceptability of taking pictures of their whole bodies or body parts, 3) whether or not women would be comfortable sharing their health data with a chosen healthcare professional, and 4) the attitudes and acceptability of both pregnant women and healthcare professionals to the app we are designing.
Our preliminary results suggest that: 1) the majority of pregnant women use pregnancy apps and access pregnancy related information online 2) the majority of pregnant women would be comfortable sharing their health data with their chosen healthcare professional via secure network and 3) both pregnant women and healthcare professionals have significant interest in using the app we are designing. This study illustrates the impact that digital tools can have to help improve the monitoring of women during pregnancy as well as assist healthcare professionals in monitoring these patients.