Systematic review to identify proxy indicators to quantify the impact of eHealth tools on maternal and neonatal health outcomes in low-income and middle-income countries including Delphi consensus

BMJ Open. 2018 Aug 17;8(8):e022262. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-022262.


Objective: To identify interventions that could serve as reliable proxy indicators to measure eHealth impact on maternal and neonatal outcomes.

Design: Systematic review and Delphi study.

Methods: We searched PubMed, Embase and Cochrane from January 1990 to May 2016 for studies and reviews that evaluated interventions aimed at improving maternal/neonatal health and reducing mortality. Interventions that are not low-income and middle-income context appropriate and that cannot currently be diagnosed, managed or impacted by eHealth (eg, via telemedicine distance diagnostic or e-learning) were excluded. We used the Cochrane risk of bias, Risk Of Bias In Non- randomised Studies - of Interventions and ROBIS tool to assess the risk of bias. A three-step modified Delphi method was added to identify additional proxy indicators and prioritise the results, involving a panel of 13 experts from different regions, representing obstetricians and neonatologists.

Results: We included 44 studies and reviews, identifying 40 potential proxy indicators with a positive impact on maternal/neonatal outcomes. The Delphi experts completed and prioritised these, resulting in a list of 77 potential proxy indicators.

Conclusions: The proxy indicators propose relevant outcome measures to evaluate if eHealth tools directly affect maternal/neonatal outcomes. Some proxy indicators require mapping to the local context, practices and available resources. The local mapping facilitates the utilisation of the proxy indicators in various contexts while allowing the systematic collection of data from different projects and programmes. Based on the mapping, the same proxy indicator can be used for different contexts, allowing it to measure what is locally and temporally relevant, making the proxy indicator sustainable.

Prospero registration number: CRD42015027351.

Keywords: health informatics; information technology; maternal medicine; neonatology; telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Delphi Technique
  • Developing Countries* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Health* / statistics & numerical data
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Mortality
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome* / epidemiology
  • Telemedicine*