As part of a program called BabyTime, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles recently deployed iPads in its neonatal intensive care unit to enable mothers to see their newborns and interact with hospital staff when they can't do so in person.
Infants are typically placed in the NICU when they are born prematurely or have other complications that require specialized care and supervision. In some circumstances, the condition of the mother might preclude her from being allowed or able enough to visit her newborn in the NICU. Such scenarios might arise when a new mother has post-operative complications, an infection which may pose a risk to the newborn or is otherwise not yet well enough to leave her bed.
Cedars-Sinai notes that approximately 20 to 30 percent of new mothers who undergo C-sections "do not feel well enough to travel from their bed in the Labor and Delivery unit to the NICU for the first 24 to 48 hours."
With the iPad, however, these mothers can now see their newborn and, just as importantly, interact with the nurses and doctors keeping an eye on their baby.
All in all, it's a great way to keep patients more involved and informed while also adding an overall sense of comfort to what can otherwise be a stressful and worrisome situation.
Charles F. Simmons Jr., MD, who chairs the Cedars-Sinai Department of Pediatrics, touted the new program in a press release:
BabyTime will help bridge communication with the family and the baby's medical team and is an excellent use of technology to help new mothers bond with their babies, even when they cannot be physically at their babies' bedside. When doctors and nurses are treating a newborn in the NICU, mom can be right there asking questions and getting updates, even if she's on a different floor.
As one would expect, the way the program works is pretty simple. When a newborn is admitted into the NICU, one iPad is placed next to the baby's incubator while another is delivered to the baby's mother. The press release notes that the mother can log onto BabyTime twice a day.
Over the past few years, Cedars-Sinai has particularly embraced the intersection of technology and healthcare. The hospital previously gave its staff iPhones to facilitate communication amongst nurses and doctors and was also one of the first hospitals to roll out an iPhone app which enables doctors to remotely access EKG results and fetal monitoring.