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The challenge

Helping pregnant patients and clinicians manage gestational diabetes

About one in 10 pregnant women in Australia will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes. ©  Petar Milosevic

Gestational diabetes occurs in one in 10 pregnancies in Australia, and is linked with increased risk of complications in pregnancy and birth.

Because of the complexities of pregnancy and diabetes, patients with the condition are supported by a team of medical experts, but much of the management of their condition happens at home.

Patients have to track their blood sugar levels and other key health indicators, and multiple clinicians need access to this information to provide optimised support. It can be particularly challenging for patients who live in rural or remote areas.

Our response

A mobile app for patients with gestational diabetes, partnered with a clinician portal

Roisine Warwick from Metro South Health with the M♡THer app.

Researchers at CSIRO's Australian e-Health Research Centre have co-developed and trialled a mobile platform with Redland Hospital, part of the Metro South Health network in Queensland, to help patients with gestational diabetes, and their treating clinicians, better monitor and track their condition.

The app, called M♡THer, replaces a traditional paper-based diary system. Patients can record information in the app such as blood sugar levels, blood pressure, weight, diet and exercise.

This information is uploaded to the linked clinician portal, so their dietitian, diabetes educator, midwife and obstetrician are able to monitor their progress in real time and intervene if required – such as calling a patient to give specific, immediate advice if their blood sugar levels have changed too much.

The app also includes educational resources to help patients understand and manage gestational diabetes.

The results

Initial trials show M♡THer effectively supports patients and clinicians

The M♡THer mobile health platform was tested in a feasibility study of 40 women at Redland Hospital in Queensland, Australia. Participants reported the app was user-friendly, convenient, helpful in managing their gestational diabetes, and gave them more confidence in managing their condition.

Treating clinicians reported improved communication with the patients in their care, and experienced more multi-disciplinary coordination among themselves. The platform enabled early intervention for a number of patients identified with elevated blood glucose level readings in the first week of using the app.

In 2020 we began an implementation study of M♡THer with more than 1000 patients at Mater Mothers’ Hospital and Redland Hospital in Queensland, the next key step in making the platform more widely available. We are also exploring expanding the study to Logan and Beaudesert Hospitals.

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