North East London Integrated Care System (ICS) has deployed healthcare communications app CardMedic to its maternity care service users to help tackle maternal health disparities.

The rollout forms part of North East London ICS’s response to national reporting and audits suggesting that poor maternal health outcomes could have been avoided with more accessible information and stronger communication. In addition – and particularly for those from Black, Asian and mixed ethnic backgrounds – a greater cultural awareness would also help to deliver more equitable, personalised and culturally-appropriate maternal care.

Thanks to the digital tool, people using the region’s maternity service will be able to use CardMedic to translate common clinical conversations into different languages and formats. This will help ensure patients are able to communicate accurately and without delay to their healthcare teams.

The system has been commissioned by North East London Health and Care Partnership, the integrated care system (ICS) which covers Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, and Homerton Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

North East London ICS has developed a strategy and action plan in a bid to improve equity and equality for its pregnant patients. CardMedic is a key part of that strategy.

Alice Compton, senior project manager for maternity digital and data transformation and a digital midwife at North East London ICS, said: “After speaking with maternity service users in north east London and understanding their experiences, it was clear that major gaps in service provision existed, with pregnant people and families often feeling they were not being listened to by staff.

“Deploying CardMedic will help us address this – giving service users the opportunity to play an active role in their care and reassuring clinicians that they are delivering the same care standards to all their patients, irrespective of their language or background.”

former Rewired PitchFest winner, the CardMedic app also holds a library of hundreds of pre-written medical scripts that replicate healthcare conversations.

In addition to offering translations, CardMedic can also be used for British Sign Language and subtitles to support those who have hearing issues. For those with visual impairments or literacy issues, there is a ‘read aloud’ function, and for children or people with learning disabilities there is an ‘easy read’ option.

The translation services will allow maternity teams to respond quickly in urgent and emergency situations, as well as reduce communication barriers with their patients when translators are not available.

Dr Rachael Grimaldi, co-founder and chief executive, CardMedic, said: “Everyone has the right to access healthcare, and communication barriers should never stand in people’s way. We’re proud to be a part of NEL’s journey in reducing health inequalities, improving communication between healthcare staff and families, and making care more accessible for all.”

North London ICS is following Suffolk and North East Essex ICS, who rolled out the app in April this year.