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California-Based University, ICU Team on Neonatal Telehealth

March 7, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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The University of California at San Diego is conducting a telemedicine program connecting neonatal specialists from its medical center and Tri-City Medical Center's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Oceanside, Calif. The collaboration, UC-San Diego says, will aim to allow experts to collaborate, diagnose and treat neonatal patients using a real-time, two-way audio/video connection.

UC-San Diego says they hope the partnership will eliminate the need for Tri-City to transport their patients. Even if not, in cases where further care is needed, the college says this will allow for coordinated care and a transfer to the NICU at UC San Diego Medical Center.

"This partnership allows us to produce a faster diagnosis and better chance for our hospital's youngest and most vulnerable patients to continue to be cared for close to home and loved ones," Hamid Movahhedian, MD, Tri-City NICU medical director, said in a statement. 
 
The program is the first of its kind in the San Diego region allowing physicians, nursing staff and other health care professionals to collaboratively participate in cutting edge care of these patients and families, as well as learn various diagnoses first hand by participating in the live video stream.

UC San Diego's enterprise-wide telemedicine program has been in place since 2009. The college says it has already fostered discussions with in-house specialists and specialty departments, as well as interested partners in the county, state, national and world-wide health care community who need subspecialty consultative care

"The power of telemedicine is extraordinary, allowing our NICU specialists to be available at a moment's notice to help provide expert care for these smallest and most fragile of patients.  We are ecstatic to be part of the solution for such a critical care need,"  Brett C. Meyer, MD, medical director of UC San Diego's enterprise-wide telemedicine program, said in a statement.

The partnership is made possible through Proposition 1D Bond funds awarded to UC San Diego which will cover telemedicine equipment costs and maintenance.   A grant from Tri-City Hospital Foundation will cover credentialing expenses for UC San Diego physicians participating in the program.

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