By Debra Anscombe Wood, RN
Always looking for new ways to improve patient care, nurses in the 45-bed, Level 3 NICU at Maxine Dunitz Children’s Health Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles developed a program called BabyTime that uses iPads to promote maternal/child bonding across hospital units.
“You can see moms’ faces light up and glow because they are so happy to see their babies,” said Yvonne Kidder, RNC, MSN, a clinical nurse IV, who pioneered the BabyTime concept with Julius Caceres, RN, MSN, a NICU staff nurse and member of the unit’s informatics project team.
A new mom who required intensive care triggered the idea. A nurse practitioner went to update the mother about her baby’s status, but sensed there had to be a better way for nurses to communicate the child’s status to the new mothers who were not able to visit their babies in the NICU. About 10% to 20% of new moms cannot visit the NICU. Some are recovering from cesarean deliveries and others are dealing with complications.
“This was a nurse-led project,” Caceres said. “It was a great process to be involved in.” The nurses investigated different technologies, including hardwired bedside webcams, but settled on the Apple iPad with its FaceTime app because of its camera and audio capabilities.
“One of Apple’s strengths is its user interface across devices,” Caceres said. As it uses the same operating system as the Volt iPhones the nurses already use, it was easier for them to learn to use the iPads.
Kidder reported that administration supported the idea and thought it would boost the patient experience. The nurses developed guidelines and presented in-services to fellow nurses about how to use BabyTime. “We made it very simple, because we thought we would get better buy-in,”
Before turning the camera onto the baby, the NICU nurses prepare the new moms for what they will see — be it a ventilator, IV lines or other equipment. Siblings with mom also can see the baby.
A nurse from the mom’s unit assists in connecting the system once per shift through the hospital’s internal Wi-Fi on a hospital-owned iPad. The program discourages use of personal devices, so the connection is secure and a nurse can be with the mom, answer questions and provide support. The two nurses check names and medical record numbers to ensure the right mom is looking at and talking to the right baby. Visits are allowed for about five minutes twice per day. New mothers can talk with the NICU healthcare team, ask questions and receive updates about the baby’s status.
“One of the great benefits is moms can meet the [baby’s] nurse,” Kidder said. Seeing the baby has a calming influence on the new mothers. “It helps reduce mom’s anxiety,” Caceres said. “Once the baby is stabilized, mom can have BabyTime.”
Babies respond as well when moms talk. Oxygen saturation rates go up, vital signs improve. “You can see decreases in the baby’s heart rate, and the babies seem calmer when they hear mom’s voice,” Caceres said.
Nurses clean the iPads between uses. The NICU devices are secured into a stand, and on the adult units, nurses lock up the iPads between sessions.
Since the program started, the BabyTime program has added iPads to make sure they are available to all moms who want to use them.
“I can see it being used throughout the medical center,” Kidder said, suggesting physicians could offer families updates from the operating room. “This doesn’t replace face-to-face contact with the medical team, but it’s a bridge in communication to help us connect with families.”
LEARN MORE, visit Cedars-Sinai.edu.