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Release: Dec. 3, 2002

Baby CareLink installed in Special Care Nurseries

Parents of premature and low birthweight babies in Children's Hospital of Iowa at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics will now have access to Clinician Support Technology's (CST) Baby CareLink – a breakthrough Internet technology which allows parents to see pictures of their baby and learn about the status of their child's health while their infant is hospitalized in the Special Care Nurseries.

Through the use of a secure Internet web browser, parents and loved ones will be able to view digital photographs of their child, see an updated daily report that includes their child's most recent weight, access a personalized knowledge database for high-risk newborn care, and provide feedback and ask questions about the care of their children.

"This is an important step forward in the care of the more than 600 babies we treat each year in the Special Care Nurseries," said Edward Bell, M.D., UI professor of pediatrics and director of the UI Division of Neonatology. "In addition to providing peace of mind for parents, Baby CareLink allows them to learn about how to take care of their children following discharge from the hospital."

The Special Care Nurseries include the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the Intermediate Care Nursery. Both nurseries care for high-risk newborns.

"Parents can use a variety of multimedia resources as learning tools that best meet their learning style and can do so at times when they can cope and internalize the information being presented to them," said Stephanie Stewart, nurse manager in the NICU. "Parents ask better questions during their babies' stay and they are better educated to take care of their babies when they leave Children's Hospital of Iowa. Unnecessary emergency room visits and/or readmissions to the hospital after discharge may be reduced substantially."

Information is also available following the discharge of the infant, allowing families to continue learning about the complexities of caring for the high-risk baby in their home.

Michael Kienzle, M.D., chief technology officer for UI Hospitals and Clinics, said, "CST Baby CareLink is a major step forward in improving health care through technology. This innovation is important for all families of babies who must reside in the Special Care Nurseries -- especially for those who live far away and have other children who must receive ongoing daily care. And, Baby CareLink gets these children home earlier."

Kienzle pointed to a randomized trial of CST Baby CareLink at a leading Harvard University affiliated hospital that demonstrated Baby CareLink facilitates earlier discharges – on average two days sooner. Parental satisfaction was on average 10 percent higher for a variety of key indicators such as quality of care, family participation in care, family and infant support, environment and visitation policy, family information and education following implementation of Baby CareLink.

The UI has endorsed the Baby CareLink program as a covered benefit for its faculty, professional and scientific employees and student enrollees. The agreement will cover participants insured under UICare, UISelect, CHIP I, II and III, UIGRADCare and the Student Health Insurance Plan.

Baby CareLink provides clinicians and parents with innovative Internet capabilities to permit parents of low birth weight and medically complex newborns to become more active participants in their baby's care. Through the use of the web, parents can view digital photos of their children in the neonatal intensive care unit and educate themselves using text, audio/video-streaming technology, and interactive web based learning. This improved connectivity between clinicians, care managers, and parents of infants in the neonatal intensive care unit and after discharge to home has been demonstrated to reduce overall length of hospital stay while dramatically improving the quality and effectiveness of care provided during the hospital stay and the first critical 18 months of life when premature babies are most at risk. Baby CareLink is the first product offering to the health care marketplace of Clinician Support Technology, Inc. Visit Baby Care Link at www.Babycarelink.com

The Children's Hospital of Iowa at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City is the state's longest-serving children's hospital. More than 100,000 children receive care at the Children's Hospital of Iowa and its statewide network of outreach clinics each year. The Special Care Nurseries at Children's Hospital of Iowa provides the state's most advanced care for critically ill newborns.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at www.uihealthcare.com.