ACCORDING to a new study released in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, there was a large cost saving when low-risk newborn infants were tracked through a website instead of going through 'usual care', which included a return visit to the hospital within 48 hours of discharge.
The research, performed in Spain, looked at a group of infants who were tracked through a website with three components:
- A free-access area with information about baby care and breastfeeding.
- A parents’ area where, after authentication, they were asked to submit a questionnaire twice a week about the baby’s condition. Parents were able to communicate with nurses with specific questions via email.
- An area where doctors and nurses could see parents’ answers to the questionnaires and respond directly to the parents.
Babies selected in the study met one of several criteria, including:
- Born between 35 and 37 weeks
- Weighing from just under 5 pounds to just under 7 pounds
- Firstborn and breastfed only
- Parents who lived more than 40 kilometres from the hospital.
After one month, the study says, 94 percent of the patients who received the Internet-based follow-up did not have to go through additional emergency department visits. This is 10 percentage points higher then the patients in the usual-care controlled group.
Emergency visits and costs both decreased by using telemedicine. The hospital-based follow-up was roughly $243 compared to just $115 for using the Internet-based follow-up.