eHealth Shows Promise in Care for Preemies

2-12-2013 10-08-17 PM

A recent survey of neonatology home health nurses and new parents of preemie babies finds high praise for telehealth services.

As part of a randomized control trial exploring effectiveness and attitudes toward telehealth, 34 families were randomized to one of three groups: traditional home health services, traditional home health services supplemented with an interactive Web application, and traditional home health services supplemented by routine videoconferencing calls with clinical staff.  After the study, families answered questionnaires about the usefulness of telehealth to support the transition of care for premature babies.

The surveys revealed that 88 percent of the families thought that video calls were better than ordinary phone calls. Thirty-three percent of the families in the Web group and 75 percent of those in the video group thought that the need for in-person home visits was decreased by the web application or video conference calls. Fifty percent of the families in the Web group and 100 percent of those in the video group thought the Web application or the video calls had helped them feel more confident in caring for their child.

Home health nurses were equally enthusiastic, though hesitant to fully adopt telehealth into their established workflows. Eighty percent of the nurses thought that the parents appreciated the services and 60 percent thought that it contributed to the care of the infants and made it safer.

Telehealth is a relatively new concept for the neonatology field, but early studies are showing promise. A key component to wider adoption will be ensuring that the services culminate in some form of reimbursement.

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