How information and communication technologies can improve the quality of maternal and newborn care in low and middle income countries: a structured literature review

The Evidence for Action programme has developed a structured literature review of how information communication technology (ICT)/mobile technology have been used in low and middle income countries for monitoring and improving the quality of maternal and newborn healthcare in general, as well as in the context of vital event registration and/or maternal death reviews.

The review identified a total of 24 projects covering four thematic areas:

  • data management including collection, transmission, and analysis of information
  • point of care support by assisting decision-making and diagnosis
  • training and disseminating knowledge to healthcare workers (e.g. latest research and guidelines)
  • improving communication and networking between healthcare workers and health facilities, patients or other healthcare workers

The review found that these technologies could have greater potential in improving and monitoring quality of maternal and newborn care if the following factors are considered:

  • ensuring the deployment of technology that can be installed and maintained locally
  • deploying devices and infrastructure that is low cost and can be integrated within the health system
  • ensure the buy-in and commitment of key stakeholders

The paper concludes that the future of ICT to contributing to quality of care improvements is promising; however it must be complemented by other inputs such as adequate infrastructure and human resources to maximize its potential.