Midwives' concerns about a shift of focus to computers in maternity settings: technology invading birth
Information and communication technology (ICT) is moving rapidly into all areas of health care in what is claimed to be an effort to combat tightening fiscal budgets, rising costs, the ageing population and a diminishing workforce (Yu & Comensoli 2004, Smedley 2005, Healy et al 2006, Deloitte 2008, Eley et al 2008, Vimarlund & Koch 2012, National eHealth Transition Authority (NEHTA) 2013). Maternity practice and care delivery are no exception, and increasingly electronic health records (EHR) and the computerisation of documentation traditionally carried out on paper, are being introduced. One such newly computerised practice in Queensland, Australia is the entry of data in to the population data set: the perinatal data collection. Perinatal data are collected across Australia by maternity unit clinical staff to fulfil related mandatory data requirements (National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit 2013). Data collected via the perinatal data ‘form’ serves to monitor patterns of obstetric and neonatal practice and provide information on obstetric and perinatal outcomes such as mortality rates and congenital abnormalities (Data Collections Unit, Queensland Health 2012). Since 2009, collection of perinatal data has been transitioning from paper to an electronic format. Over 80% of perinatal data in Queensland are now collected this way (Craswell et al 2013).