The Sacramento, Calif.-based UC Davis Children’s Hospital has been awarded a three-year grant worth approximately $750,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for the Advancement of Telehealth - Health Resources and Services Administration (OAT-HRSA) to expand its services for infants.
The Pediatric Emergency Assistance to Newborns Using Telehealth (PEANUT) Program will provide clinicians at rural hospitals round-the-clock access to neonatologists and other subspecialists through the use of UC Davis’ videoconferencing capabilities, the health system’s officials say.
Four hospitals in California were selected to launch the PEANUT project because they are in rural counties serving health-professional shortage areas and medically underserved areas, according to Madan Dharmar, assistant research professor in the UC Davis Children’s hospital pediatric telemedicine program.
According to a recent study by UC Davis researchers published in Critical Care Medicine, the quality of care for pediatric patients in rural emergency rooms—where pediatricians and pediatric specialists are scarce—improved significantly when delivered via telemedicine consultations.
“Telemedicine has been an important part of UC Davis Children’s Hospital’s efforts to improve access to pediatric care for more than a decade,” Dharmar, the principal investigator for the PEANUT Program, said in a statement. “Our goal is to extend essential subspecialist expertise to medically underserved areas, which should lead to higher quality and more cost-effective care.”
In addition to providing multi-disciplinary neonatal care, the PEANUT Program also will enhance access to ongoing medical education for physicians, nurses, and other hospital staff. The program will assist hospitals with implementing new state and national care standards, such as the Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening Program, by providing training for rural hospital technologists in neonatal echocardiography. In addition, healthcare providers in rural nurseries will be trained on techniques and standards for emergency care for newborns.
Furthermore, the PEANUT program will study the long-term impact of these telemedicine interventions on neonatal outcomes, as well as the cost-effectiveness of these efforts.