Web camera systems in the neonatal intensive care unit

Welcoming parents and the family 24 hours a day and 7 days a week in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is the optimal way to encourage the family´s relationship with their newborn. However, it may not always be possible for all family members to visit the baby. In these cases, web camera systems in the NICU allow virtual visitation of the hospitalised infant by parents and family members. But in the course of the implementation of such technologies, it is important to explore and to understand the perspective of all involved groups: the newborn infant, parents and family members, healthcare professionals, and the hospital (data protection).

For this purpose, EFCNI organised a project roundtable together with well-known clinical experts from hospitals in Germany and Austria to discuss the advantages, challenges and requirements of web camera systems. Based on the results, a position paper was developed that considers the different perspectives of involved target groups. The document is aimed at supporting hospitals which are interested in installing camera systems.

Position paper  Camera systems for live streaming in the NICU (in English)

Positionspapier Kamerasysteme zum Live-Streaming auf der Früh- und Neugeborenen-Intensivstation (in German)

Participants of the project (in alphabetic order)

  • Katharina Böckelmann – Hamburg, Germany
  • Dr Till Dresbach – Bonn, Germany
  • Sandra Geneschen – Berlin, Germany
  • Simone Hock – Freiburg, Germany
  • Astrid Holubowsky – Wien, Austria
  • Professor Andreas Müller – Bonn, Germany
  • Dr Pia Paul – Lübeck, Germany
  • Dr Jörg Reichert – Dresden, Germany
  • Dr Michael Steidl – München, Germany
  • Dr Tobias Trips – Traunstein, Germany
  • Dr Axel van der Wense – Hamburg, Germany
  • Kerstin Wimmer – Augsburg, Germany

What do parents and healthcare professionals say?

Dr Joanna Strohm, pediatric surgeon and mother of a preterm born son has used a web camery system. For her and her husband this service was a nice-to-have add-on used regularly when they couldn’t be with their son. It was calming them to see him when they were absent, but she admit that a web camera couldn’t replace physical contact.

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Dr Till Dresbach, Senior Physician for paediatrics and youth medicine at the University Hospital Bonn, Germany, confirms positive effects of video streaming. His experiences have shown that “virtual visits” empowers mothers and fathers and enhances their competences as parents. For him, web camera systems can help to decrease the stress level of parents and to incorporate them into the treatment of their child. 

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For Annika Lesch, neonatal nurse at the University Hospital Bonn, her first misgivings regarding web cameras didn’t come true. In her experience they don’t interfere with the daily working routine of the care-giving team but have a positive, calming effect on the parents. 

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The entire project is kindly supported by Natus Medical inc.