A validated pre-natal and postpartum adaptive SMS program that provides pregnancy resources to improve health literacy and population health. Used by thousands of parents across multiple public health authorities in Canada, the program was co-created with the University of British Columbia.
What is SmartParent?
Parents enrolled in SmartParent receive up to three tailored text messages each week, anchored to their baby’s age and stage of development. It supports new parents in their transition to parenthood and improves parent and infant health by providing a local and online guide to resources and services available to them.
Used By: Northern Health, Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Island, Interior Health, and Island Health.
The Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey stated there are substantial gaps in information available to parents on health education and health care for their infants. 13.1% of parents indicated they had difficulty getting access to a health care provider.
Educational programs for new parents are limited and due to time constraints, remote locations and now the COVID pandemic, even less likely to be attended. New parents can feel isolated and overwhelmed. They end up resorting to online sources from the internet which are potentially overwhelming in their sheer volume, exacerbating the difficulty of identifying accurate, relevant, evidence-based, and unbiased information.
Parenthood can be very frustrating and overwhelming, especially during the first year. SmartParent helps combat this by sending parents information, links to evidence-based sources of online information, suggests topics of conversation to have with providers and directs parents to local resources. It is a free and easy way for parents to learn and feel empowered in caring for their infants.
SmartParent has been actively in use since 2021 and has started to scale with several BC provincial health authorities: Fraser Health, First Nations Health Authority, Northern Health, Interior Health, and Vancouver Coastal Health. This program allows for regional/provincial/state and municipal tailoring of content for messaging to participants.
SmartParent was conceptualized as a follow-up to the SmartMom program, which was developed to provide prenatal education through text messaging to expectant mothers. SmartParent and SmartMom are led by academic researchers from UBC in collaboration with Optimal Birth BC. Optimal Birth BC has been funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute in Vancouver, BC to optimize practices for improved maternity care and to provide expectant and parenting families with evidence-based information to promote informed decision-making. It is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of nurses, midwives, family practice physicians, obstetricians, pediatricians, psychologists, educators, policy planners, researchers and representatives from the BC Ministry of Health and BC Health Authorities.