Moderately ill preterm infants residing in medically underserved areas are frequently transferred to tertiary care NICUs that are mostly located in urban areas, resulting in mother-infant separation, high transportation costs, and the emotional costs of limited infant visitation. In 2012, The American Academy of Pediatrics revised neonatal care guidelines, adding in-house neonatal services to the scope of Level II NICUs. Limited availability of neonatologists in medically underserved areas has prompted innovative solutions like telemedicine to meet this requirement. Telemedicine consultations for pediatric transports have demonstrated improved patient outcomes compared with phone consultation, but evidence regarding telemedicine use for neonatal transport is mostly limited to simulation settings. Also, there are limited data on telemedicine use as a primary means to provide intensive care to neonates in Level I/II NICUs. Recently, two groups demonstrated the feasibility and safety of synchronous telemedicine to guide care for premature infants at lower level NICUs. This approach prevented unnecessary transfer and appeared to provide the same quality of care that the baby would have received at the tertiary care facility. As current evidence regarding the use of telemedicine to extend intensive care is based on single-center experiences, additional research and evaluation of the effectiveness of telemedicine for this application is required. This chapter describes the use of telemedicine to support physicians at lower level nurseries and the transport team with management of critical neonates, utility as primary means to provide care at lower level NICUs, barriers for implementation, and future opportunities to enhance telemedicine's impact in NICU settings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Obstetrics and Gynecology