Background: Mobile health is an exciting, fast-paced domain that is likely to improve prenatal care.
Methods:In this narrative review, we summarise the use of mobile health applications in this setting with special emphasis on both the benefits of remote monitoring devices and the potential pitfalls of their use, highlighting the need for robust regulations and guidelines before their widespread introduction into prenatal care.
Results: Remote monitoring devices for four areas of prenatal care are reported: (1) (cardio)-tocography; (2) blood glucose levels; (3) blood pressure; and (4) prenatal ultrasound. The majority of publications are pilot projects on remote consultation, education, coaching, screening, monitoring and selective booking, mostly reporting potential medical and/or economic benefits by mobile health applications over conventional care for very specific situations, indications and locations, not always generalizable.
Conclusions: Despite the potential advantages of these devices, some caution must be heeded when implementing this technology into routine daily practice. To date, the majority of published research on mobile health in the prenatal setting consists of observational studies and there is a need for high-quality randomized controlled trials to confirm the reported clinical and economic benefits as well as the safety of this technology. There is also a need for guidance and governance on the development and validation of new apps and devices and for the implementation of mobile health technology into healthcare systems in both high and low-income settings. Finally, digital communication technologies offer perspectives towards exploration and development of the very new domain of tele-pharmacology.