mLabor: a mobile application to support labor monitoring and the early detection and management of serious maternal and fetal complications

Dimagi, Inc.
Organization Location: 
Cambridge, MA, USA

Prolonged and obstructed labor is one of the leading causes of maternal and newborn mortality and of serious maternal morbidities, such as obstetric fistula. Currently, a low-tech paper form—the partograph—is universally recommended by the World Health Organization. However, despite decades of training and investment, correct use of the paper partograph remains low. We propose an innovative use of Smartphone and tablet technology to improve the service delivery provided by health workers to detect and correctly manage these complications. We will conduct intensive design and usability testing to develop intuitive and easy to use interfaces, testing it at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya (which has a busy high-volume maternity unit). We expect this will reduce maternal and neonatal mortality by increasing the number of prolonged and obstructed labors that are detected early and correctly managed. We propose a comprehensive redesign that fully harnesses the potential of mobile technology. Our system, called mLabor, will allow for the easy input of labor monitoring data, will generate reminders and prompts when data need to be entered or fall outside appropriate ranges, and will trigger alerts and management guidance when the labor is not progressing quickly enough. mLabor will provide automated reports that enable supervisors to review whether labor monitoring data was entered at appropriate times, detect irregularities in data, and observe whether recommended actions were taken. When ready, we will launch mLabor worldwide through the cloud-hosted CommCare platform that is used by thousands of health workers across 30 countries.

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