Graduate’s phone app on call to help monitor premature babies

Steff McKenna has won a prize for her mobile app, called the BabyDiary
Steff McKenna has won a prize for her mobile app, called the BabyDiary
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HAVING a premature baby recovering in a neonatal unit is a distressing and worrying time for any new parent.

But a university graduate has come up with a way of making sure parents can get easy access to information about their baby’s progress – by creating a mobile phone app.

Steff McKenna, an Edinburgh Napier University computing graduate, has created the BabyDiary, an online tracker that allows parents of premature babies to track their progress while they remain in the neonatal ward.

Using the iPhone and Android technology, parents can check up on how their little ones are doing from their home, work, or while en route to the hospital.

The regular updates are written and posted by the nurse taking care of the baby and can include pictures.

The app also allows parents to save the pictures and forward them and the updates to friends or family.

It has earned Ms McKenna, 27, from Penicuik, the prestigious Amor Group Software Engineering prize, which recognises “best practice” in software engineering. The technology has previously been available for parents to use online, but the new software gives them much more flexibility and easier access. Ms McKenna, who works for Clevermed – a patient data management provider – knows only too well how difficult it is for parents when their newborn children have to remain in hospital after birth as her niece and nephew were both born around eight weeks premature.

She said: “I thought it was a really nice concept.

“It’s something quite close to my heart because my nephew was in the neonatal unit, and so was my niece, so it was easy to get passionately involved in.

“My brother and sister-in-law used the online technology with my nephew and thought it was a really worthwhile service.

“The app will give parents the ability to look at the BabyDiary on the go without having to have internet access.

“It will be offered to the neonatal units and it’s up to the parents to opt in.

“It’s good because grandparents on the other side of the world can also use it, they just need the log-in and password.”

Ms McKenna graduated from Edinburgh Napier earlier this year.

She started developing the software while in her final year as part of her dissertation.

The new BabyDiary app is expected to launch nationwide early next year.