Millions of people enter the hospital each year for critical conditions, accidents, or surgeries. Besides the physical pain, the experience can cause emotional trauma as well. The fear, anxiety, and shock can be overwhelming. The patient’s family often struggles with a sense of frustration and helplessness. For families of neonates in NICUs, those feelings can be even more profound. Relieving these emotions requires hospitals to have a comprehensive program for educating patients and their families about the patient’s condition and care plan, providing as much detail as possible throughout the entire episode of care. But far too often, that doesn’t happen. It’s not hard to remember a time when patients and their families were kept in the dark about what was going on. “Doctor knows best” was the motto and patients and their families just had to blindly trust the providers were doing what was best for the patient. But studies now show that patients who are more educated about their health conditions make better decisions about their care. And when patients and families make better decisions, it increases care plan compliance, a critical element for achieving quality outcomes. Post-discharge patients are 30% less likely to be readmitted or to
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An article published in the Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings stated, “In the context of escalating health care costs and shocking future cost projections, the potential for improved health outcomes through patient education and self-management programs is immense.” At the heart of this idea, according to the authors, is patient engagement. Nowhere is this more true than in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where research indicates parental involvement and communication are key to positive outcomes. And this communication should extend beyond the walls of the hospital and beyond patient discharge. Babies that have been in the NICU have higher rates of readmissions than other infants. Following are five elements hospitals should include when developing an educational program for NICU parents and families. How-to videos. People generally retain more information when watching a video than they do just reading documents. Videos also offer the ability to show real-life examples of more complex at-home care instructions. For parents of neonates, watching a “how-to” video can ensure they’re following appropriate care procedures. It can also increase the parents’ confidence in their ability to properly care for their infant at home. Condition-specific Information. Not all NICU graduates require the same level of at-home care.
One of life’s greatest joys is having a baby. However, when the baby is born prematurely, that joy can be overshadowed by anxiety and stress. On top of the concern for the baby’s health, parents can feel overwhelming insecure about leaving their newborn in the hospital. Especially while getting back to their normal life routines, particularly when the stay extends for weeks or months. And they have good reason to be concerned. When parents are actively engaged, neonates experience better outcomes. Babies exposed to maternal sounds in the NICU experience fewer cardiorespiratory events. Preterm babies exposed to parental talk achieve higher language and cognitive scores at 7 and 18 months. Exposure to parental talk is a strong predictor of infant vocalizations. Increasing access to the NICU for parents and families should be considered an essential part of a neonatal care program. It is often difficult for parents to travel to see their little ones. All hospitals with neonatal ICUs can relieve this stress by leveraging virtual engagement technology. Bedside web cameras Studies show a link between postpartum maternal distress and adverse cognitive, behavioral, and psychomotor development in infants. Web cameras placed at the bedside can help relieve this stress by
The New Role of Virtual Care Technology in Removing Barriers and Improving Connectivity Between Providers, Patients, and Families Access to quality care is one of the major challenges facing our healthcare system today. Rural areas—home to one in five Americans—are particularly hard hit as hospitals and other clinical resources leave smaller communities in an effort to consolidate operations and lower costs. This means millions of consumers nation-wide have to travel—sometimes for hours—to receive care. This is especially troublesome for pregnant women or those with chronic conditions. But there’s another aspect of care access that may be under the radar of most people. And that’s the lack of access to, and connectivity between, caregivers, patients, and their families. This is especially true in situations where the patient is in a critical care unit. A great example is the case of a premature baby. While infants often have to remain in the NICU for months, parents have to get back to their lives. Whether to return to a job or to take care of other children at home, it can be emotionally challenging for them to leave their newborn. The lack of real-time connectivity can increase anxiety, which increases calls to the