- The Mayo Clinic’s tele-neonatology program has provided more than 200 consults in its first four years, helping reduce unnecessary transfers and increase patient referrals to the system, executives told Healthcare IT News.
- The program connects Mayo neonatologists with community providers, so the specialists can guide newborn resuscitation practices like airway management, effective ventilation and central line placement.
- When it surveyed providers who had used the service, Mayo Clinic found 96% said it improved patient safety and/or quality of care, and 98% would use the service again or refer it to colleagues.
Telemedicine is often thought of as a way to improve the convenience of healthcare services to patients, it can also be critical to helping providers in rural areas and at small hospitals give specialty care when it is needed. Improving technology is allowing telemedicine to succeed in emergency cases as well, such as Mayo neonatologists helping a physician properly resuscitate newborns.
Dr. Jennifer Fang, who works in the Mayo program, said in one example a baby born via Cesarean section to a mother with placental abruption needed immediate advanced resuscitation. The Mayo neonatologist was able to help the local care team increase the baby’s heart rate and normalize blood-oxygen levels.
“Telemedicine allowed the neonatologist to optimize care for this baby who was at risk of dying or experiencing serious complications, but instead he went home healthy with his parents after a brief stay in the NICU,” Fang said. “In these cases, everyone involved feels the positive impact of tele-neonatology – the local physicians and nurses, the consulting neonatologist, and, most important, the patient and family.”
Other telemedicine initiatives are also focused on bringing specialty expertise to providers who may rarely need a consultation, but would benefit from having one available when the case arises. Several medical societies recently teamed up to create the Human Diagnosis Project, which uses collective intelligence and machine learning to help small and remote practices receive specialist opinions.