Mayo Clinic has developed a robust NICU Telemedicine program since their start 6 Years ago
Approximately 1 in 1,000 newborns will require advanced resuscitation after delivery. When these high-risk deliveries occur in a regional referral center such as Mayo Clinic, newborn outcomes can be optimized under the care of a multidisciplinary team that has frequent experience with neonatal resuscitation. However, if a similar high-risk delivery occurs in a community hospital, the local providers may face unique challenges when responding to delivery room emergencies
Telemedicne in the NICU has come a long way in a short time
The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, implemented tele-neonatology six years ago. Prior to that, Mayo Clinic neonatologists were assisting community hospital care teams via telephone when a newborn required advanced resuscitation or critical care.
Since their first telehealth consult was done over six years ago, Mayo Clinic has become a leader in using emergency video telemedicine to support community providers during high-risk deliveries. This program allows Rochester-based neonatologists to consult with local care teams in 10 health system sites. Prior to using telemedicine, only 43 percent of newborns in Mayo Clinic Health System sites had access to a neonatologist if they required advanced resuscitation. With Mayo Clinic’s synchronous newborn telemedicine program, 100 percent of newborns in this region may benefit from the expertise of Mayo’s neonatologists should the resuscitation become a challenge
Prior to Telehealth, they had to rely on “MA Bell”
Prior to implementing telemedicine, they were limited to being able to only do telephone consults with providers at other hospitals lower level NICUs. This inability to visually assess the newborn, this limited our ability to closely collaborate with the local team and guide care over the phone, This was especially relevant when in their neonatal transport team was not present for a high-risk delivery due to weather or geography, and the local team had to resuscitate and stabilize the critically ill newborn independently.
These challenges prompted Mayo Clinic to develop a tele-neonatology program that allows neonatologists to establish a real-time audio/video telemedicine connection with care teams in community hospitals during these high-risk, low-frequency neonatal emergencies.
Mayo Clinic’s neonatal telemedicine program has been well-received by the local care teams. Nearly 96 percent of local physicians would use telemedicine again and would recommend it to their colleagues. Most importantly, local physicians agree that telemedicine consult improved patient safety, the quality of care or both in 95 percent of surveyed cases. According to Jennifer L. Fang, M.D., with Neonatal Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the next step is to study the impact telemedicine has on the quality of newborn resuscitations.