LUCY app: informed mothers, healthy babies
Pregnant women and mothers of newborns often lack information about their pregnancy or the first year of their baby’s life. This can lead to serious and preventable health complications. Therefore, we developed the LUCY application (app), which is a smartphone app for pregnant women and parents of newborns informing them about a healthy pregnancy and good start of life for their newborns.
LUCY aims to reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality by supporting women and parents during the most exciting, but also insecure, time of their lives. The app empowers them to make informed decisions about their own health and the health of their baby.
The LUCY pregnancy app was first launched in March 2020 and is available for download for Android and Apple smartphone users. The LUCY app is free for use. Information is available in English for the international community; Dutch for Suriname; and Amharic and Oromo for Ethiopia, with more countries and languages to follow.
Benefits of the LUCY app
Mobile health service for pregnant women and parents of newborns
Women who use the LUCY health app are well informed during the course of their pregnancy and first year’s development of their baby. The app sends weekly messages, based on gestational age or the age of the newborn. The app sends information about the baby’s development; possible causes for alarm during pregnancy and how to act upon them; reminders about prenatal or postnatal visits; and information about vaccinations, hygiene, and healthy nutrition. In addition, (pregnant) women receive information about their own physical and mental development, as well as fetal development during pregnancy. All messages are in line with international and national guidelines and are contextualized for each country.
‘I downloaded the LUCY app and since that day, I looked forward to the weekly information I received, which supported me through my pregnancy. My son is now 6 weeks old and LUCY teaches me everything about his growth.’
Wandana Narain – LUCY user Suriname
The LUCY maternity app reinforces the healthcare professionals’ messages and informs their clients in between antenatal and postnatal visits. The app increases the efficiency of the healthcare professionals’ work; the quality of their services; and decreases their workload.
Features of the LUCY application
In addition to weekly health information, LUCY users and healthcare professionals benefit from multiple interactive features in the LUCY app.
Antenatal and postnatal appointment tracker
The LUCY app contains a personalized calendar of all antenatal and postnatal care visits, and vaccinations for the newborn. Based on gestational age or the age of the newborn, visits are shown in a calendar. The user receives reminders for each clinic visit and can indicate whether she attended the appointment and child immunization was carried out. It is expected that this will improve adherence to the recommended schedule of antenatal/postnatal care visits according to national and international guidelines, and increase the vaccination rate of women and babies.
E-communication with a healthcare provider
The LUCY app offers users the unique opportunity to send questions to a healthcare professional via an e-communication function. This feature was tested in Suriname via a digital helpdesk where the questions were answered by local medical experts, such as a gynecologist. This service is expected to lower the threshold for users to reach out to a healthcare provider, increasing their health seeking behavior.
An often neglected topic during antenatal or postnatal care visits is the mental well-being of (pregnant) women. Hence, LUCY allows users to capture their mood on a daily basis with the help of five smileys, from happy to sad. When a user indicates sad smileys over a prolonged period of time, she is advised to discuss this observation with her healthcare provider in order to receive appropriate mental healthcare.
Reducing maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality
The LUCY app has been downloaded by 20% of the target population in Suriname within 1.5 years (2020-2021) and has been implemented in Ethiopia since late 2021. Health[e]Foundation aims to achieve global coverage of the app, since it can offer tailored content for each country. Already, the LUCY app is:
- Increasing adherence to the preferred number of antenatal/postnatal care visits according to national and international guidelines;
- Increasing the vaccination rate of women and babies;
- Decreasing the number of preventable complications during pregnancy and/or for newborns;
- Promoting healthy nutrition for women during and after pregnancy;
- Increasing the detection and treatment of (postpartum) depression.
With the overall aim of contributing to a reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity.