An edinburgh University project which uses new technology to allow pregnant women to be monitored at home rather than visiting a hospital specialist has won a major European award.
The Telematic Maternity and Newborn Management Systems (MAMS) run by Ken Boddy of the university's department of obstetrics and gynaecology has won first prize in the health care category of the Stockholm-based Bangemann Challenge for the best European examples of practical information technology projects.
Midwives in two deprived areas of Edinburgh use notebook computers integrated with monitoring equipment to check the heart rate of the foetus and the mother's blood pressure. The equipment includes a GSM telephone, enabling midwives to send the signals to hospital in real time for emergency advice. Patients's medical records can be loaded onto the computer before a visit. "It reduces hassle and hospital admission rates,'' said Andrew Lamb of the Edinburgh healthcare telematics centre. There has been demand from clients to have more care in the GP setting and at home, but the anxiety has been whether we can make that safe. The technology is providing that link to the expert in the hospital.'' Two health centres also have videoconferencing links, allowing hospital specialists to "sit in'' on case conferences to give advice and reassurance. The health centres can download ultrasound scans of the foetus to the hospital in real time.
"Possibly, videoconferencing may be available in the home, as more people have cable television and ISDN becomes more widely available,'' Dr Lamb said.
The Edinburgh and Stirling Metropolitan Area Network, the broad-band, high-speed computer network funded by the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, which links Stirling University and the city of Edinburgh's three universities, was awarded first prize in the Bangemann Challenge university networks category.