The Use of Telemedicine for Stabilization of Neonates Transferred from Rural Community Hospitals

Sarah C. Haynes, Kristin R. Hoffman, Sonal Patel, Stanley Smith, Patrick S. Romano, James P. Marcin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: For newborns requiring transfer to a higher level of care, stabilization before the arrival of the transport team is essential. Telemedicine consultations with a neonatologist may improve local providers' ability to stabilize a newborn during this critical interval. The purpose of this study was to describe the use of telemedicine for stabilizing newborns who were transferred from one of six rural hospitals to a regional neonatal intensive care unit in northern California and to examine the association between telemedicine use and time needed to stabilize the newborn. Materials and Methods: We collected data on all newborns who were transferred after either a telemedicine or telephone consultation with a neonatologist between April 2014 and June 2018. We used multiple regression to examine the association between the use of telemedicine and stabilization time, adjusting for gestational age, 5-min Apgar score, birth weight, site, and primary reason for consultation. Results: In total, 162 infants (77.5%) received a telephone consultation and 47 (22.5%) received a telemedicine consultation. Neonates who received telemedicine had a significantly greater severity of illness, as measured by mean 5-min Apgar score (6.9 vs. 7.8, p = 0.008) and Transport Risk Index of Physiologic Stability version II (TRIPS-II) score (14.4 vs. 6.0, p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in stabilization time for telemedicine consultations compared with telephone consultations in the adjusted analysis (adjusted mean difference:-1.80, 95% confidence interval:-16.0 to 12.4, p = 0.802). Conclusions: Although we found no difference in stabilization times between modes of consultation, telemedicine may be helpful for stabilizing infants with a higher severity of illness, particularly those in respiratory distress. Future studies should examine the impact of telemedicine on specific interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1393-1398
Number of pages6
JournalTelemedicine and e-Health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • neonatology
  • stabilization
  • telemedicine
  • transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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