Premature infant

Emergency Telemedicine Helps Newborns in Distress

In Rochester, Minnesota, obstetricians have a new tool in their arsenal: emergency telemedicine for newborns. Ten community hospitals are using the technology to consult with neonatologists at the Mayo Clinic for issues such as newborn resuscitation, resulting in higher patient safety, increased quality of care, and reduced transfers to the neonatal ICU at Mayo.

According to neonatal-perinatal specialist Jennifer Fang, MD, about 1 in 10 newborns need help breathing after birth; 1 in 1,000 require intensive resuscitation measures. Many community hospitals are not equipped to handle such high-risk deliveries. At facilities linked with Mayo Clinic, emergency telemedicine consultations allow the neonatologist to visually assess the infants and discuss treatment with the local care team.

As described in a recent paper, over a period of 20 months, 84 newborn telemedicine consults occurred, mostly for prematurity and respiratory distress requiring advanced resuscitation. When surveyed, 93 percent of the local providers felt that the telemedicine consultation improved quality of care, patient safety, or both. These consults also reduced the need to transfer the patient to Mayo’s neonatal ICU by one-third, instead allowing the babies to remain in the local hospital with their families; this lowers overall costs and allows more neonatal ICU beds to be used by critically ill infants.

Aside from these results, the community hospitals reported problems with the telemedicine software and hardware, leading to poor audio and video quality. In addition, some connections lacked a functional video stream; in other instances, the connection was unusable.

We are pleased to see such encouraging progress in the application of telemedicine. However, the connection issues highlight the importance of choosing a reliable software platform for emergency medicine; the nature of these consults requires an immediate consult in any location. As shown by the successful use of swyMed video medicine for emergencies in moving ambulances, swyMed has proven to be reliable with its high-quality audio and video connections, low-bandwidth requirement, and ability to instantly and automatically reconnect users. We would welcome the opportunity to assist emergency telemedicine in any application.

To learn more about the Mayo Clinic study using emergency telemedicine for neonatologist consults, click here.

For a demo of swyMed video medicine, click here.

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