Internet Helps Parents of Preemies
"One of the big issues when we release a baby is whether
the family -- and community that will be taking care of that baby -- is
ready," Gray says. "Some of these babies weigh as little as four pounds
when they go home. We need to know that the parents and extended caregivers are
capable and confident in their ability to provide care for the infant. And this
program helps us with that."
Warren B. Karp, PhD, DMD, who has run a similar program for
mostly rural children with special healthcare needs, says the benefits of
telemedicine services reach not only the parents, but other family members,
friends and general practitioners. Karp is professor emeritus at the Medical
College of Georgia in Augusta, where telemedicine has been studied for more
than a decade.
"At our institution, family members routinely have to
travel as much as 200 miles to visit a child in the NICU, and what generally
happens is that only one parent can make the trip," Karp tells WebMD.
"We have found that with home telemedicine, other family members, as well
as neighbors and friends, get involved. We found that the average number of
people in a room during a telemedicine visit was four. Obviously when grandma,
or a neighbor, or an aunt observes the televisit, they are also learning how to
care for the child, just like the parents."