Children's Medical Center Dallas launches 'teleNICU'

Soon, Texas newborns in far-flung intensive care units will be able to be examined virtually by expert neonatologists via telemedicine.

Children's Medical Center Dallas (TX) has launched the state's first dedicated neonatal telemedicine program, titled the Children's Medical Center TeleNICU, according to an announcement from the hospital.

The program will use secure broadband transmission to allow for real-time communication between hospitals and the expert neonatologists at Children's. A mobile equipment cart will be used for videoconferencing, data transfer and digital scoping equipment.

"As the first telemedicine program of its kind in Texas, the Children's Medical Center TeleNICU program exemplifies our deep commitment to innovation and the use of proven technology to extend the reach of our expertise beyond the boundaries of walls and geography," said Christopher J. Durovich, president and chief executive officer of Children's, in the announcement.

In Oklahoma this year, funding for telemedicine went toward telestroke programs and a neonatal intensive care application, but at great cost--the state's Universal Service Fund paid out $32.5 million in FY 2013 ending in June, with telemedicine being one of the largest areas of reimbursement.

And earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission made up to $400 million available to healthcare providers to create and expand telemedicine networks nationwide as part of its Healthcare Connect Fund.

In spring 2012, the University of California-San Diego Medical Center has teamed up with nearby Tri-City Medical Center to bring telehealth into the hospital's neonatal ICU unit, the hospitals announced.

Telehealth may be a way to keep infants out of the NICU, according to a study commissioned by the American Telemedicine Association that was published in December 2011. ATA reported that the Medicaid program nationwide could save $186 million over 10 years if it used telehealth services to provide intensive services to at-risk mothers, and ultimately prevent pre-term births, which make up most NICU cases.

To learn more:
- read the announcement from Children's Medical Center Dallas

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