Research project on tele-homecare for preterm infants is both popular among the parents and cost-effective for the hospital because of fewer admission days.
Odense University Hospital has finished a research project, where preterm infants are sent home from the hospital earlier than usually, and the parents receive support through an iPad from the hospital. The iPad has the app My Hospital with information on how to take care of a preterm baby. The iPad also allows communication with the hospital through text messages, pictures and video.
The project was very popular among both staff and parents from the beginning, and now the results of the cost analysis show that the hospital saves money with neonatal tele-homecare, because it reduces the number of in-hospital bed days.
On average the homecare stay is 19 days, and the solution has proven to reduce the admission by 4-10 days for the preterm children and their parents. The expenses for technology and equipment are outweighed by the reduction in in-hospital bed days.
TELE-HOMECARE GIVES FAMILIES REST AND TRANQUILITY
In Denmark it is regular practice that premature children are admitted to hospital with their mother until the child is able to be breast or bottle-feed and gain weight without supplementary nutrition from a probe. This is normally around the original due date.
For many families, this makes it hard to establish a normal family life with the new baby, since the father is not admitted with mother and child and the family is away from their usual surroundings. In addition, the unease of being in the hospital often causes difficulties with breastfeeding and getting the necessary sleep for both mother and child. And if there are older children in the family, everyday life can be difficult and it is hard to get a good start on family life with the newborn brother or sister.
The research project was a PhD project by Kristina Garne Holm from HC Andersen’s Children Hospital at Odense University Hospital. She is pleased with the results: “Preterm homecare was implemented immediately after the project was finished. The families are happy with homecare, because they can unify the family in their home earlier than usually. And they feel safe because they remain in close contact with staff in the hospital’s neonatal department. So we are very happy that the cost analysis shows that homecare is also less expensive for the hospital – a good solution for everybody”.