Acceptability and user experiences of a patient-held smart card for antenatal services in Nigeria: a qualitative study

Ijeoma Uchenna Itanyi, Juliet Iwelunmor, John Olajide Olawepo, Semiu Gbadamosi, Alexandra Ezeonu, Adaeze Okoli, Amaka Grace Ogidi, Donaldson Conserve, Byron Powell, Chima Ariel Onoka, Echezona Edozie Ezeanolue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Poor maternal, newborn and child health outcomes remain a major public health challenge in Nigeria. Mobile health (mHealth) interventions such as patient-held smart cards have been proposed as effective solutions to improve maternal health outcomes. Our objectives were to assess the acceptability and experiences of pregnant women with the use of a patient-held smartcard for antenatal services in Nigeria. Methods: Using focus group discussions, qualitative data were obtained from 35 pregnant women attending antenatal services in four Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Benue State, Nigeria. The audio-recorded data were transcribed and analyzed using framework analysis techniques such as the PEN-3 cultural model as a guide. Results: The participants were 18–44 years of age (median age: 24 years), all were married and the majority were farmers. Most of the participants had accepted and used the smartcards for antenatal services. The most common positive perceptions about the smartcards were their ability to be used across multiple health facilities, the preference for storage of the women’s medical information on the smartcards compared to the usual paper-based system, and shorter waiting times at the clinics. Notable facilitators to using the smartcards were its provision at the “Baby showers” which were already acceptable to the women, access to free medical screenings, and ease of storage and retrieval of health records from the cards. Costs associated with health services was reported as a major barrier to using the smartcards. Support from health workers, program staff and family members, particularly spouses, encouraged the participants to use the smartcards. Conclusion: These findings revealed that patient-held smart card for maternal health care services is acceptable by women utilizing antenatal services in Nigeria. Understanding perceptions, barriers, facilitators, and supportive systems that enhance the use of these smart cards may facilitate the development of lifesaving mobile health platforms that have the potential to achieve antenatal, delivery, and postnatal targets in a resource-limited setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number198
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Acceptability
  • Antenatal services
  • Implementation research
  • Maternal health
  • Mobile app
  • Nigeria
  • Resource-limited setting
  • Smart cards
  • User perception
  • mHealth


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