Telemedicine Improves Rate of Successful First Visit to NICU Follow-up Clinic

Document Type


Publication Date



MaineHealth Institute for Research, Pediatrics

Journal Title

Hospital Pediatrics


OBJECTIVES: NICU graduates require ongoing surveillance in follow-up clinics because of the risk of lower cognitive, motor, and academic performance. We hypothesized that multiple programmatic changes, including availability of telemedicine consultation before hospital discharge, would improve NICU follow-up clinic attendance rates. METHODS: In this retrospective study, we included infants who survived and were premature (≤29 6/7 weeks/<1500 >g) or had brain injury (grade III/IV intraventricular hemorrhage, stroke or seizure, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy). We compared rates of follow-up for the early cohort (January 2018-June 2019; no telemedicine) with the late cohort (May 2020-May 2021; telemedicine available); and performed a mediation analysis to assess other programmatic changes for the late cohort including improved documentation to parents and primary care provider regarding NICU follow-up. RESULTS: The rate of successful 12-month follow-up improved from 26% (early cohort) to 61% (late cohort) (P < .001). After controlling for maternal insurance, the odds of attending a 12-month follow-up visit were 3.7 times higher for infants in the late cohort, for whom telemedicine was available (confidence interval, 1.8-7.9). Approximately 37% of this effect was mediated by including information for NICU follow-up in the discharge documentation for parents (P < .001). CONCLUSIONS: Telemedicine consultation before NICU discharge, in addition to improving communication regarding the timing and importance of NICU follow-up, was effective at improving the rate of attendance to NICU follow-up clinics.