Being able to calculate the exact gestational age is essential for providing better prenatal care, both in the inpatient and outpatient settings.
Most pregnancies last around 40 weeks from conception, which means that the best way to estimate a gestational age and pregnancy due date, would be counting weeks from the day of the last period.
However, many future moms are not sure of their last period, which makes this calculation and estimation harder.
Pregnant women can calculate their gestational age and pregnancy due date by themselves or with the help of their primary care physician or OB/GYN.
The common way to make these calculations is by using obstetric (OB) wheels, also known as pregnancy wheels or gestational calculators, which are small circle-shaped calendars, made of paper or plastic, that use the last menstrual period (LMP) as a starting point to help determine the due date.
In recent years, these traditional OB wheels have been slowly replaced by their digital counterparts made for smartphones and tablets.
These digital gestational age calculating apps for mobile devices proved to be more accurate than commonly used calculating wheels made of paper and plastic, so recent studies suggest that the use of these traditional paper OB wheels should be abandoned in favor of mobile apps.
Many OB wheels mobile apps are available for both iOS and Android devices. The 'Prego Wheel' is one of the better. The app was created by Dr. Emilie Coudière, a Canadian-based Family Medicine Physician who practices obstetrics, with the help of her husband Jeffrey Fulton.
Can you tell us the story behind your mobile app? Where did the idea for your app come from? What served as your inspiration for the app?
Dr. Emilie Coudière, a family physician, and my wife came home from work one day saying she wanted a streamlined, no-frills, quick and easy to use obstetrical date calculator for use in the office. While there were many apps already available, she felt they had too many additional features which complicated the experience. She drew a quick sketch of the single-screen app she wanted and asked if I could code it for her. I built a rough prototype and we iterated on it over a few weeks before publishing it to the App Store.
How did you build the content that's contained in the app? Does the information in your app come from evidence-based resources, such as scientific literature, peer-reviewed articles and case studies?
The app's singular function is to calculate obstetrics dates. We base our calculations on an established formula which we've tested against other online calculator tools and listed references for in the app.
What impact has your app had on clinical practice so far? We'd appreciate if you could share some stats on how frequently your app is used worldwide.
As of July 9th, 2018 we're seeing daily averages of approximately 1,223 sessions (app opened for more than 2 seconds) on approximately 281 active devices. The app has been downloaded by over 3000 users in total with approximately 1500 of them active in the last 30 days. The app is being used all over the world with the most usage in India, Mexico, and the United States.
What are the tools and technologies used to build your mobile app (both cloud- and client-side)? Was it native or cross-platform development? Did you consider other technologies?
Built using exclusively iOS native technologies because cross-platform apps consistently annoy us as users.
What were the main challenges you had to overcome when developing your app? Could you please single out the biggest technical challenges, product challenges, marketing challenges, and support challenges?
User interface/user experience design. Even with this simple single screen app we really struggled with making it "intuitive" to our target demographic. We iterated on the design many times before we felt it was right.
Could you single out the 3 biggest mistakes you made when developing the 'Prego Wheel' app?
We don't feel there were mistakes. How we did something that didn't pay off: localizing the app to Chinese. We have almost no usage from these efforts probably due to not understanding the market in China.
When it comes to medical apps, sooner or later the issue of data protection and security always comes up. How do you make sure that user data is secure?
We don't store or collect user data.
What's next for your app? Are there any new features, functionalities, or upgrades planned for future updates?
We anticipate doing only minor maintenance updates to stay current with future versions of iOS and future devices. The stated goal of our app is simplicity via doing one thing really well. Prego Wheel already does that one thing and by design will not get any additional features.
Could you share some word of advice with other mobile app developers? What steps they should follow in order to make a successful app?
Focus efforts on app's that solves a need you personally have. If it helps you, it will probably help someone else too.