Telemedicine intervention linked to lower infant mortality rate in Arkansas
In a recent article in the Journal of Perinatology, researchers reported that telemedicine intervention contributed to lowering the number of very low birth weight neonates delivered in hospitals without neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) in Arkansas.
The article also pointed out that there was an associated decrease in the statewide infant mortality rate in Arkansas.
Very low birth weight neonates have higher rates of morbidity and mortality. These neonates should receive care in Level III perinatal centers. However, these centers do not exist in many regions of the country, particularly rural areas. This lack of regional centers to provide subspecialty care for these children or “regionalization” is a problem that the researchers sought to address with the intervention of telemedicine. Their question was whether telemedicine could lower very low birth weight deliveries in hospitals that lacked NICUs. They also asked whether this intervention could affect morbidity and mortality among these children and whether statewide infant mortality would decrease as a result of a telemedicine intervention.