Pregnant women have to deal with a lot of information about managing their health and preparing for birth. Dr Oliver Daly wanted to find a better way to deliver some of that information, in a more practical, timely manner.

“There’s a limit on the time we have to spend with a patient and often the information we’re delivering is not necessarily relevant to the patient at the time we’re delivering it – it might be relevant further along in their pregnancy,” Dr Daly said.

He and his colleagues were also concerned that most of that information is delivered to patients in English. Yet 60 per cent of their patients are from non-English speaking backgrounds.

“We felt there had to be a better way of giving information to patients which they could review at their own leisure, in their own language, when they needed to access it,” Dr Daly said.

His team has embarked on a project to develop a smartphone app that will deliver specific pregnancy information to patients in a variety of languages.

The app will have unique appeal for Western Health patients because it will provide information about how to access specific pregnancy services offered at Western Health’s campuses. It will also provide emergency contact details if patients need to contact medical staff.

The project is a joint partnership with the University of Melbourne, funded by the Macedon Ranges and North Western Melbourne Medicare Local network. A needs assessment of patients and health staff is underway and the research team will use the results to shape the app’s design and content.

Dr Daly is also involved in another large research project – the first study of its kind in Australia to examine what type of anaesthesia patients prefer when they have an operation to treat activity-related urinary incontinence.

About 5000 patients have the operation each year in Australia. Currently patients are given a general anaesthetic to have a sling inserted underneath their urethra to stop urine leakage.

A minimally invasive sling has recently been developed and the procedure can now be done using only a local anaesthetic. Dr Daly’s study is investigating the feasibility of this alternative and whether patients are likely to choose it rather than the more expensive, riskier general anaesthetic.

“We need to know whether patients will prefer to use the local anaesthetic,” Dr Daly said.

“Once we’ve established whether patient would like this option we will proceed with the pilot study of putting these slings in under local anaesthetic.

“Our hope is that patients will benefit from not having to undergo a general anaesthetic – that they will have no increase in pain or distress, they will be able to go home earlier and the success rates for the procedure will be the same as a under a general anaesthetic.”

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