According to a new study released in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, there was a big cost savings when low-risk newborn infants are tracked through a website instead of going through usual care, which included a return visit to the hospital within 48 hours of discharge.

telemedicine and newbornsThe 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:

  • Being born between 35 and 37 weeks
  • Weighing from just under 5 pounds to just under 7 pounds
  • Being firstborn and breastfeeding only
  • Having parents who lived more than 25 miles 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 (ED) visits. This is 10 percentage points higher then the patients in the usual-care controlled group.

Not only did the ED visits decrease by using telemedicine, so did cost! The hospital-based follow-up was roughly $243 compared to just $115 for using the Internet-based follow-up.