User Experiences With and Recommendations for Mobile Health Technology for Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy: Mixed Methods Study

Karin Rolanda Jongsma, Josephus F M van den Heuvel, Jasmijn Rake, Annelien L Bredenoord, Mireille N Bekker

Published: 04/08/2020


Background: Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) are a primary cause of adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes worldwide. For women at risk of hypertensive complications, guidelines recommend frequent surveillance of blood pressure and signs of preeclampsia. Clinic visits range from every 2 weeks to several times a week. Given the wide ubiquity of smartphones and computers in most countries and a growing attention for self-management, digital technologies, including mobile health (mHealth), constitute a promising component of monitoring (self-measured) blood pressure during pregnancy. Currently, little is known about the experiences of women using such platforms and how mHealth can be aligned with their needs and preferences.

Objective: The objectives were twofold: (1) to explore the experiences of Dutch women who had an increased risk of HDP with a blended care approach (mHealth combined with face-to-face care) for remote self-monitoring of blood pressure and preeclampsia symptoms and (2) to formulate recommendations for the use and integration of mHealth in clinical care.

Methods: Alongside a prospective blended care study (SAFE@home study) that monitors pregnant women at increased risk of HPD with mHealth technology, a mixed methods study was conducted, including questionnaires (n=52) and interviews (n=11). Results were analyzed thematically.

Results: Of the 4 themes, 2 themes were related to the technologies themselves (expectations, usability), and 2 themes were related to the interaction and use of mHealth (autonomy and responsibilities of patients, responsibilities of health care professionals). First, the digital platform met the expectations of patients, which contributed to user satisfaction. Second, the platform was considered user-friendly, and patients favored different moments and frequencies for measuring their blood pressure. Third, patient autonomy was mentioned in terms of increased insight about their own condition and being able to influence clinical decision making. Fourth, clinical expertise of health care professionals was considered essential to interpret the data, which translates to subsequent responsibilities for clinical management. Data from the questionnaires and interviews corresponded.

Conclusions: Blended care using an mHealth tool to monitor blood pressure in pregnancy was positively evaluated by its users. Insights from participants led to 7 recommendations for designing and implementing similar interventions and to enhance future, morally sound use of digital technologies in clinical care.

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