4 July 2023 Articles

How Maternity services can embrace digital transformation


Apira are passionate about digital transformation and the benefits enabled by it. We help our clients to de-risk their digital journeys along each stage of the clinical system life cycle from strategy development to deployment and onto benefits realisation and optimisation.

In recent years there has been much discussion around the NHS implementing Electronic Patient Records (EPRs) to improve the efficiency, safety and quality of healthcare delivery. While the need for integrated EPRs is clear and the benefits established there are some hospital services, such as maternity services, which aren’t fully supported by some of the EPRs acute hospitals procure as their main EPR.

Maternity services are filled with well publicised challenges. There were 625,008 live births in 2021, an increase of 1.5% from 615,557 live births in 2020, but still well below the 2019 number; 2021 remains in line with the long-term trend of decreasing live births observed before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic*. Departments are having to balance the requirements for safely managing services alongside workforce issues and utilising paper first processes which inevitably has an impact.


pregnant woman working on laptop

Led by NHS Digital (now part of NHS England), workstream 7 (Harnessing Digital Technology) of the Maternity Transformation Programme (MTP) is working to implement a vision that provides all women with access to comprehensive digital sources through a digital tool, an investment into electronic maternity records, technical solutions that are accessible to women outside of a hospital setting and a digital tool that allows women to access their records and to receive personalised information relating to them.

nurse in blue uniform using ipad

There are 4 digital maternity projects running within the workstream to help NHS England meet its objective of improving outcomes in maternity services in England:

1. Maternity Digital Maturity Assessment (DMA)

The National Maternity DMA report provides a rich, national picture of digital maturity in England. The reports are designed to be used together and aim to equip maternity providers with insight and resources to aid local planning for the investment and adoption of digital technologies.

2. Interoperable Maternity Records

The Digital Maternity Interoperability project was to create a professionally agreed standard for maternity records. NHS Digital (now NHS England) now has a Maternity Record Standard relating to direct patient care. This will enable all maternity clinical systems to consistently capture information and ‘speak the same language’.

The second phase of this project is ensuring the use of standard terminology within the maternity record and its messaging to ensure different systems can share and interpret the information in the record. This enables everyone involved (including women themselves) to have access to a standardised set of paperless, digital maternity records.

The third phase of the interoperability development will enable healthcare professionals to search for and retrieve maternity records ensuring the records are accessible at the point of care, support safer care for women and their babies plus it will reduce the amount of paper used across the service.

3. Women’s Digital Care Record

A new priority and expectation was given for NHS Digital and NHS England to progress with the implementation of electronic personal records for pregnant women after an in-depth review in 2018.  The Women’s Digital Care Records project supports women with the opportunity to contribute towards their record and promote a greater understanding of the care they receive.

4. A Digital Toolset

The NHS have already made great progress in this project by implementing:

  • new sign-posting links allowing users to get straight to the content they want.
  • important information highlights on pages to make it clearer for pregnant women when they need to seek help.
  • links to other useful and NHS approved apps within the NHS Health Apps Library
  • new pregnancy week by week content available about the baby’s development, changes to the woman’s body and what women should start thinking about at each stage of pregnancy.


Here at Apira, we have an experienced team who have supported a number of our clients to deliver digital maternity programmes within their Maternity Departments and to help them along their digital journeys.

Our team can help make maternity department digital plans and aspirations a reality. We have helped more than 100 organisations gain the most from technology and information to meet pressing challenges such as the MTP by guiding our customers through all elements of a system life cycle, from Business Case, to procurement, to deployment, adoption and benefits realisation.

To find out more about how we can help please contact rory.dennis@apira.co.uk our Director of Growth to find out who we will be able to assist you.

Information from NHS England 
*statistics from Office for National Statistics