Medicine iMedicalApps: iPrenatal

Medicine iMedicalApps: iPrenatal

Medicine iMedicalApps: iPrenatal


Many of us in family medicine practice full-scope including obstetrics. It is one of the most challenging yet rewarding aspects of primary care with unpredictable hours and significant medical-legal risk. Many primary care providers perform outpatient prenatal care, which can be equally rewarding. Regardless of what scope of obstetrics care you provide, pregnant patients are always looking for reliable information about their health and that of the fetus from the time of conception through those first few postpartum visits.

One common topic that must be discussed with all pregnant patients early in pregnancy is the topic of prenatal testing. This can take many forms and can include traditional blood tests such as the quad screen, cystic fibrosis testing, nuchal translucency testing, and the newer non-invasive prenatal testing.

Although all of the frequently cited reference apps such as UpToDate, DynaMed, and Essential Evidence Plus have abundant information on the topic, as do Practice Bulletins from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, none of them are geared to the patient. Providers may not have the time to explain prenatal testing during a “new OB” visit or even feel qualified to answer every question about the tests.

Roche changed the landscape of prenatal testing with the arrival of their cell-free DNA/noninvasive prenatal test called Harmony. This test detects fetal DNA released from the placenta into the maternal bloodstream. It can evaluate for trisomies, microdeletions, and fetal sex. Studies have shown the test’s superiority to standard testing, although it is significantly more expensive in most cases. Many facilities offer this testing in combination with nuchal translucency testing for trisomy testing. Other facilities have maintained the cheaper but less sensitive and specific triple/quad screen tests.

The iPrenatal app by Roche attempts to explain the basics of chromosomes, common prenatal conditions (trisomy 21, 18, 13, etc.), and the options for screening. The app uses a conversational/”choose your own adventure” approach to revealing the content to the patient. The app has embedded definitions, graphics, and short cartoon-like videos to explain some information in more detail.

The app does not go into great detail in any of these areas so providers will need to supplement the app content with some additional counseling or other materials. Providers may want the patient to review the app prior to the patient’s visit with the provider to enable enough time to discuss other topics.


  • Mostly complete educational content for patients on prenatal testing
  • Includes information on the basics of chromosomes and common prenatal conditions
  • Available for both iOS and Android


  • Some may not like the conversational style of the user interface
  • Lacks some details on common screening blood tests and diagnostic procedures
  • No back button (restart is hidden away in a menu), home button, or hyperlinks for reference

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