The QUIPP app: helping doctors decide who is at risk of premature birth

Professor Andrew Shennan, Dr Helena Watson, Dr Rachel Tribe, Mrs Jenny Carter, Mr Paul Seed

Researchers in Tommy’s Prematurity Clinic are helping develop an app that will reduce unnecessary hospital admissions for women with symptoms of premature labour.

The QUIPP app is a clinical tool – used by doctors to help treat patients – that analyses different factors that affect a woman’s risk of preterm birth. It is being developed in Tommy’s Prematurity Clinic to help doctors decide which women need further medical help, and which don’t. A recent survey found that 92% of women found our use of the app helped them better understand their condition and gave them reassurance during a stressful time. 

Our work on the app won two prizes in 2016:

  • 1st prize in the Health Innovation Award King’s College London Lion’s Den Challenge
  • 1st prize in the Health Service Journal Awards in the category 'The use of Information Technology to drive value in clinical services'

The app looks at different measures that can affect how likely it is for a woman to give birth early: quantitative fetal fibronectin (fFn), cervical length, and whether a woman has previously had a premature birth.

Fetal fibronectin is a special protein made by babies’ cells in the womb, and acts as a 'glue' that keeps the amniotic sac attached to the lining of the womb. If a woman is likely to have a premature birth, the protein is released into the vagina where it can be picked up using a swab.

Tommy’s researchers previously showed that fetal fibronectin should only appear at certain points in pregnancy. During the EQUIPP study, which took place in our London centre, results from over 1,500 women showed that high levels of the protein are directly related to a higher risk of premature birth.

We are pleased to say that the QUIPP app is now complete. It has been developed using results from the PETRA study as well as data based on 5000 patient visits. The app will be available to download online and on android and Apple devices. 

What we’re doing next

The app will be launched to coincide with the start of the EQUIPTT study. This is a parallel study across 14 maternity units in England, which aims to evaluate how successful the app is. Specifically, we want to find out if it can stop women being admitted to hospital unnecessarily. 

The EQUIPTT study will run for 12 months, after which participants will be invited to give their feedback via a questionnaire booklet or a telephone interview. 

Feedback so far has been very positive: 

'Great bit of technology that provides clear results.'

'Nice to see how risk factors are calculated in an inclusive way. I found it very reassuring.'

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Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for pregnancy complications and loss. We can keep you updated on our research news. If you're interested in being kept updated about our research and news from Tommy's, click here.

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