"The iPhone advantage is highlighted by [applications] like AirStrip OB, which enables obstetricians to monitor different stages of labor even when they’re not by a patient’s side. Developed by AirStrip Technologies, AirStrip OB links individual mobile devices to a central AirStrip server with HIPAA-compliant authentication, giving obstetricians remote access to live views of delivery room data — including fetal heart tracings, contraction patterns, vital statistics and nursing notes."
Years ago I wrote about the pregnant robot technology Noelle, who enabled medical students to have complete control over a patient without any capacity for independent thought, discussion or to give her consent to procedures. I was concerned that by learning how to control a robot in labour, and creating and managing emergencies during the robot's birth would lead to:
"[T]he continuing (if not exacerbated) attitude within obstetrics that birthing women should be in the complete control of medical professionals and their technologies, and the belief that birth is a surgical procedure, rather than a biosocial, personal, emotional, psychological and spiritual experience, unique for each woman."
Now thanks to the iPhone medical students don't need to concern themselves with these aspects of care provision! While a marketing officer for the healthcare system praises the iphone for helping staff to: "deliver patient care in a more efficient, productive manner" in reality the iphone serves as another obstetric tool which enables doctors to detach from the women they should be serving. It helps obstetricians provide a one-size model of "care" which focuses on data from other technologies rather than on the unique needs of the individual birthing woman. "Efficiency" and "productivity" have little to do with childbirth, these are words relevant to industrial manufacturing. Someone needs to let obstetricians know that they are not manufacturing neonates and birthing women are not factory machinery!
One doctor is quoted as saying that "AirStrip OB is an absolutely indispensable [application] on iPhone”. He goes on to say:
“It fundamentally changes the way I’m able to interact with labor and delivery [note not "the birthing mother"]. In a tenth of the time, without pulling a nurse away from what she’s doing, I get all the real-time data I need at the touch of a button.”
This doctor sees human touch, eye-contact and face-to-face conversation with the birthing mother as irrelevant to his role in "attending" a birth! "All the real-time data" he needs comes from machines. And that is the crux of the issue, the iphone AirStrip OB application (and obstetrics more widely) are concerned primarily with what the doctor needs, not the birthing woman and her baby.
It will be interesting (read devastating) in the future to see what impact this technology has had on hospital birth, such as caesarean rates, narcotic use rates during birth (and for the children born, later in life), rates of postnatal depression, birth trauma and post traumatic stress disorder, as well as a range of other important considerations the obstetrical profession appear to have ignored.
I predict that like the electronic foetal monitor and the ultrasound before it, the use of the iPhone and it's applications during birth will lead to greater rates of unnecessary intervention and trauma for families.
*Why should obstetricians have the luxury of not being "able" to be at their patients bedsides? Pregnant and birthing women should expect nothing less than continuity of care, that means having their care provider by their side during childbirth! This is standard practice for the independent midwives who the Australian Government are legislating out of existence presently.