The University of California Davis Children's Hospital of Sacramento has been awarded a grant of approximately $750,000 over three years to expand telehealth services for newborns in rural areas and to study the impact of the program.
The new Pediatric Emergency Assistance to Newborns Using Telehealth (PEANUT) program will provide clinicians at rural hospitals round-the-clock access to neonatologists and other subspecialists through the use of UC Davis' secure videoconferencing capabilities, according to an announcement.
Four hospitals in rural counties with a shortage of medical professionals have been selected to launch the program. In addition to offering access to subspecialists, the program will train rural doctors in newborn emergency care, including screening for congenital heart defects.
"Without subspecialty guidance, newborn infants may be undertreated, receive inappropriate therapies, or face unnecessary transfers," said Madan Dharmar, assistant research professor in the UC Davis Children's Hospital pediatric telemedicine program and principal investigator for the PEANUT program. "By providing immediate access to neonatologists and other pediatric experts, PEANUT will provide a safety net for rural clinicians and their patients."
UC Davis researchers have been at the forefront in using telemedicine to improve pediatric care. A study published in August in the journal Critical Care Medicine reported significant improvement in care provided to children in rural emergency departments through telemedicine consultations.
More recently, a study published in the American Journal of Medical Quality found using telemedicine to unite clinicians and provide health education to be an effective way to manage childhood obesity in remote areas. HEALTH-COP--the Healthy Eating Active Living TeleHealth Community of Practice--offered a virtual learning and quality improvement network that reached out to seven clinics throughout rural California, according to an announcement.
Children's Medical Center Dallas, in September, announced the launch of a "teleNICU" that allows Texas newborns in far-flung intensive care units to be examined virtually by expert neonatologists via telemedicine.
What's more, a recent telemedicine upgrade is allowing South Florida mobile medical clinics operated by Children's Health Fund to link to pediatric specialists from the University of Miami Health System.