Mayo Clinic says neonatology telehealth saves infants' lives, avoids transfers

Originally Posted in Healthcare IT News on August 21st

Written by Bill Siwicki, Managing Editor, Healthcare IT News


As a center of excellence in neonatology, the Mayo Clinic is using telemedicine to provide remote consultations throughout the region for high-acuity neonatology needs, such as resuscitation assistance. Mayo’s program has been successful in providing coverage to areas that previously would not have direct access to specialists and enabling those locations to reduce the need to transfer patients.


“Our tele-neonatology program focuses on assisting local care teams during high-risk newborn resuscitations that occur in the community setting,” said Jennifer Fang, MD, who works in Mayo’s tele-neonatology and resuscitation program. “This most commonly includes pre-term infants, newborns with respiratory distress, or babies who require advanced resuscitation.”


With video telemedicine, the Mayo Clinic’s neonatologists can be virtually present at the bedside to assess the newborn and work closely with the care team during a resuscitation. The neonatologist in the hub site can help guide the critical steps of newborn resuscitation, such as airway management, effective ventilation and other procedures such as central line placement.


“About 10 percent of babies will need some assistance to begin breathing after delivery, and 1 in 1,000 will need extensive resuscitation,” Fang said. “So in many community hospitals, these high-risk situations may only occur a few times each year. Based on the literature, we know that newborns who require advanced resuscitation, especially very premature infants, have poorer outcomes when delivered at hospitals with lower levels of neonatal care.”


With telemedicine, the Mayo Clinic has the opportunity to bring additional neonatology experience to the bedside of these critically ill babies when they need it most. The remote neonatologist can assist the community physician to ensure the highest level of care is being provided to every newborn regardless of birth location.


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