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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Informatics
- Health Information Management