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E-learning programme for intelligent intermittent auscultation in labour


UPDATE  2022:

The training and education programme is hosted on the Health Education England (HEE) e-LfH hub where more than 11,000 users have enrolled.  Supporting webinars created by Oxford AHSN (Now known as Health Innovation Oxford and Thames Valley) have had more than 3,000 views on YouTube and a short introductory video has been seen over 13,000 times. It has received professional accreditation from the Royal College of Midwives and won the innovation of the year at the HSJ Patient Safety Awards 2020. In 2021 the programme was opened to international access through a collaboration with eIntegrity.

The programme, which is supported by OxSTaR, was updated in 2022 with the addition of more fetal heart sounds and a new assessment. A bespoke dashboard has been developed enabling interrogation of the data and demonstrating real improvement in the knowledge and skills of the users.

Intelligent Intermittent Auscultation (IIA) is the recommended method of monitoring the heart rates of babies in the womb where pregnant women are considered at low risk of fetal hypoxia during labour. It is a practical skill required of all midwives in any birth setting.

Oxford AHSN (Now known as Health Innovation Oxford and Thames Valley) developed an interactive e-learning package with consultant midwives Christine Harding (Royal Berks) and Wendy Randall (Oxford University Hospitals). It was launched on the national Health Education England e-LfH platform in January 2020 following masterclass webinars attended by more than 300 people. In February 2021 access was extended worldwide through the eIntegrity platform.

In November 2020 it won the Innovation of the Year category at the HSJ Patient Safety Awards and received professional accreditation from the Royal College of Midwives.

The aim is to improve safety for mothers and babies in low risk labour and birth by improving the knowledge, skills and confidence of midwives. Uniquely the programme uses real fetal heart sounds as part of the interactive learning. It enables midwives to build up an accurate picture of how the baby is coping with the stress of contractions based on what they are hearing and take the right next steps based on whether they identify any deterioration or abnormalities in the fetal heart rate. It provides reassurance for well babies and prompts rapid escalation and a move to continuous electronic fetal monitoring if appropriate.

The training package supports the NHS Long Term Plan and responds to the national report Each Baby Counts 2020 final progress report, which highlights the importance of intermittent auscultation and identifies specific training requirements.

It is the only training package that accurately assesses competency relating to IIA. Up to now it was only possible to teach the theory and assess knowledge. The new programme includes an assessment which identifies if the midwife/learner requires additional support.