Neonatal care app designed at Imperial College Healthcare now available nationally

An app designed by doctors, nurses and therapists at Imperial College Healthcare to help support parents of premature babies receiving care in the neonatal unit is now available to parents across the country, following licensing of the app for the national market.

Available free on Android and iPhone, the app provides parents with easy access to information that can help them to understand their baby’s journey, medical terminology they may hear used and their options, as well as specific information about the Trust and key contact details. The app also contains space for parents to document memories with their baby and record key information like feeding data and details of skin-to-skin contact.

The team behind the app, called 'Integrated Family Delivered Neonatal Care' or 'IFDC', specialise in the care of premature babies. They developed the technology in response to the needs of parents whose babies were under their care, to provide information that helps them to feel engaged, enabled and empowered to be the primary caregiver to their baby in the neonatal unit. The development of the app was originally supported by a grant from Imperial Health Charity in 2017 and the expansion to other healthcare providers and parents has been made possible through a technology transfer partnership with Imperial College London.

A parent who used the app said: “Thanks to the app we soon stopped feeling helpless and instead felt really empowered. The team not only listened to us they genuinely valued our input and observations of our baby girl to help tailor her care. By the time we transferred back to our local hospital, we felt positive and confident about caring for our baby - even the staff could tell there was something different about us!”

The app has always been available to anyone for free but the information it contained has been specific to Imperial College Healthcare. The new license deal, allows other trusts across the country to sign up to use the app, adapting it to their specific needs and including relevant trust information and contact details to help parents.

Commenting on the expansion of the app’s availability, consultant neonatologist, Dr Aniko Deierl, said:

“Caring for your premature baby on the neonatal unit is a stressful, daunting time for new parents, and you may be receiving lots of medical information that can be difficult to get your head around. When we developed this app, we wanted to provide something parents could rely on for straightforward information, allowing time and space to feel informed about their baby’s journey and empowered when they are caring for their baby on the unit.

“Our aim was always to help parents more widely so it’s amazing to have an opportunity to work with other trusts to tailor the app to their needs and offer the same support to parents across the country. Combined with the diary function to mark the family’s memories and record data on feeding, skin to skin contact, growth and more, we hope the app can provide a resource that makes the experience just that little bit easier for parents.”

Nick Fox, executive commercial director, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: “It is fantastic to see innovation which has been developed at our Trust being made available to parents and other healthcare organisations. Anyone that has had any experience of a newborn baby in intensive care will understand the stress and anxiety that such an experience can create. Having a tool in the form of an easy to use app to guide the parent through their child’s neo-natal intensive care journey as well as logging their experiences will go a long way to relieve some of this anxiety by helping them to understand what to expect and what part they themselves can play in this journey."

Tailored versions for specific trusts will only be available to those under the care of a trust who has signed up to use the app but the app is still openly available for free to all parents who may find the general information useful. It can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play - just search for 'IFDC'.