Examining early intervention referral patterns in neonatal intensive care unit follow up clinics using telemedicine during COVID-19

Kerry Miller, Grace Berentson, Holly Roberts, Carol McMorris, Howard Needelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) follow up programs are in place to ensure infant health and development are monitored after discharge. The COVID-19 Public Health Epidemic (PHE) negatively impacted the ability to conduct in-person NICU follow up visits. Aims: This study examines using telemedicine in NICU follow up clinics and compares the rates of referral for further medical and/or educational developmental evaluation. A second objective of the study examines if telemedicine can be implemented in the future to ensure access to families while maintaining high levels of caregiver satisfaction. Method: Data were obtained retrospectively from clinical records from one state's NICU follow-up program. Patterns of referral for further developmental evaluation and caregiver satisfaction prior to the COVID-19 PHE and during the first year of the COVID-19 PHE were examined. A total of 658 NICU follow up visits (384 in-person and 274 telemedicine) were included. Results: Chi Square analyses revealed significantly more medically related referrals were made during telemedicine visits compared to in-person visits, χ2 (1) = 5.55, p.05. There were no significant differences between the clinic types in the number of educationally based referrals made, χ2 (1) = 0.028, p >.05. Conclusion: The rates of referral for further evaluation made from in-person and telemedicine clinics were comparable, and caregivers were highly satisfied with telemedicine clinic visits. NICU follow up via a virtual platform saves time, money and is equally effective or better in identifying the need for referral for further evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105631
JournalEarly Human Development
Volume172
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Follow-up clinic
  • NICU
  • Telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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