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Neonatal webcams add another dimension
Webcams in neonatal units are becoming popular with hospitals as they allow parents to log in from home computers or smartphones to watch a live video stream from a camera above the baby’s bed, reports American Medical News.

Since January 2011, about 30 hospitals nationwide have installed NICVIEW systems or acquired a demo system. Of the nearly 625 Level III NICUs in the U.S., about half have contacted Healthcare Observation Systems, developer of NICVIEW, for details about the system, the publication reported.

Participating hospitals include St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, Calif.; Deaconess Women’s Hospital in Newburgh, Ind.; Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, and Parkview Community Hospital in Riverside, Calif.

“Sometimes parents miss out on bonding,” says Parkview neonatologist Dr. Daniel Saesim. “I thought these cameras would help bridge that gap. A lot of times these babies, who are in our units for weeks or months, don’t get to meet anybody except for parents and grandparents. This is another way for [people] to show off their babies without family and friends having to physically be in the room.

Some medical centers are exploring ways to expand webcam use into other areas of their facilities, according to American Medical News. “The live feeds have no sound and are used on a secure Internet line that is designed to preclude recording by a parent or the hospital. Parents receive a password to log onto the system, which can be passed to other family members and friends,” the publication adds.

A 24-hour, seven-day-a-week control center in Louisville monitors each webcam. Parents and medical staff can call the center with questions, and company technicians can change the camera’s angle.

The systems cost $25,000 to $150,000, depending on hospital size and the number of cameras installed. Expense per bedside is about $700. Parkview shuts off its live feeds during shift changes and certain procedures. Nurses and doctors also have the option of pushing a pause button during rounds, according to American Medical News.

“Some staff members leave notes in front of the webcam with messages such as “I just had a bath today,” or “I can’t wait to see you, Mom.”

Some hospitals use webcams in other patient settings as well. “At St. Luke’s, for example, the rolling webcam has made its way through adult patient rooms, allowing heart transplant patients to interact with family members,” the publication reports.