Digital Health as a silver lining: exploring pregnancy digital health usage amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
Background: Digital health tools such as apps are being increasingly used by women to access pregnancy-related information.
Aims: Conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, this study investigated pregnant women’s usage of digital health tools and self-monitoring behaviours. In addition, views and interest in theoretical pregnancy app features: (1) a direct patient-to-healthcare-professional communication tool and (2) a novel body measurement tool was assessed.
Methods: Using a mixed methods approach, 108 pregnant women were surveyed and 15 currently or recently pregnant women were interviewed online between November 2020 to May 2022.
Results: We found that the COVID-19 pandemic had far-reaching impacts on the experiences of pregnant women – from their experiences with healthcare to their relationships with themselves and their social circle. Most participants said that they would use the theoretical app features we described and also identified a gap in the availability of evidence-based educational information. Other features that they would include in a pregnancy app were a “Digital Wallet” and a desire for a holistic pregnancy app that allowed for more continuous and personalised care. The main factor that influenced how likely participants were to use pregnancy apps were concerns about data privacy and security.
Conclusions: This study highlights the gaps and needs of pregnant women and should inform all stakeholders designing pregnancy digital healthcare. This study offers a unique insight into the experiences of pregnant women during a very particular and unique period in human history.