The state government of Western Australia is set to roll out a foetal monitoring system in all Country Health Service maternity sites across its regions through next year. Bunbury Regional Hospital, the state's busiest and largest site, will be the first to introduce the system.

It will implement the A$4.2 million Infant Guardian System from health record system provider K2 Medical Systems which runs on artificial intelligence to support the clinical review of foetal heart rate patterns.

WHY IT MATTERS

Based on a media release, the implementation of the AI-powered foetal monitoring system enables remote monitoring of clinical data delivered in real-time, which further enhances patient involvement. It also renders greater privacy and fewer intrusions during labour as foetal heart rates can be monitored remotely. There is also a potential for a much efficient discharge process using data.

The media release also noted that through the system, specialist support can be delivered to smaller maternity sites in real-time and remotely.

Additionally, WACHS medical, nursing and midwifery staff from regional WA will be trained using the system.

THE LARGER TREND

The WA government has implemented other maternity and newborn care initiatives in the past. The most recent was the expansion of the Midwifery Group Practices (MGP) model of care in the South-West region.

The care model features on-call 24/7midwifery services; wide access to antenatal appointment bookings and care; and care coordination by a known midwife, among others. MGP helps in minimising birth interventions and postnatal depression rates, as well as raising breastfeeding rates and patient satisfaction.

WA has already established the MGP model in Broome, Northam and Bunbury.

ON THE RECORD

"This revolutionary system ensures the mother is included in the review and decision-making process throughout her pregnancy and birthing journey, which we know plays a big part in improving foetal wellbeing. Providing this type of digital support for clinical decision-making is critical in achieving our goal of providing high value, innovative healthcare to all Western Australians," WA Deputy Premier and Health Minister Roger Cook said in a statement.

"This fantastic piece of technology is another important step in reducing [the] disparity between metropolitan and rural and remote maternal and newborn health outcomes," he added.

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