English Project Summary


When parents are confronted with a preterm birth (a birth <37 weeks of gestation) or a baby with a difficult start after birth, an admission on Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is often needed. Sometimes this admission is planned, but often it is acute and unexpected occurrence. In both situations parents need personalised information and individual support. Parents are not only overwhelmed by a high amount of information, it is particularly the beginning of an emotional and often difficult period. Beside information and communication also parent participation is important. Parent involvement plays a central role in individualized developmentally supportive care for preterm infants (e.g. skin to skin) and supports parents in building a relationship with their baby.

Currently, there is no adequate solution to answer all questions of parents on the right moment, in a well-balanced manner, taking pathology, reason for admission and personal information needs into account. A digital solution, in particular a mobile application (mHealth), could be one of the solutions,
but seems to be less developed, investigated and applied in neonatal care.
The objective of this two-year research project (2017-2019) is to investigate the impact and added value of a personalised, user-friendly and context aware application on parent participation and communication on a neonatal intensive care unit.

Information needs and critical moments of parents will be mapped (WP1) as well as the content and functionality of the application from the caregivers’ point of view (WP2). Additionally a literature and
Internet study will be executed to list and evaluate mHealth applications in order to gain insight in best practices (WP3). Based on the results of the first work packages the application will be developed (WP5) and consequently tested in a pilot study (WP6). In addition the requirements on security and
integration of such an application in the IT-infrastructure of hospitals will be explored.

This innovative research project responds to the recent mHealth evolutions and will introduce a renewed approach in neonatal care by use of a digital solution. The project not only focuses on app development, but uses a total approach to increase the opportunity for a sustainable and successful
implementation of the application. Expertise from this research project can be extrapolated to other domains in health care.