Webcam Use in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit during the First Year of the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic

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Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate patterns of webcam use in families of patients admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) during the first year of the pandemic and characterize the families who used the technology. Study Design Retrospective chart review of the medical records and logins of our live webcam system was conducted for 2020.

Results: From January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, 843 infants were admitted to the NICU, with lengths of stay range of 1 to 169 days. More than half (n ¼ 496, 58.8%) of all families of infants admitted to the NICU used the webcam system during the period of study. The number of webcam users did not change between the pre-coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and during COVID-19 time periods, or during versus after NICU visitor restrictions. Among webcam users, the median (interquartile range) number of logins per day was 2.9 (2.9) and ranged from 0 to 44. There were significant differences among races, site of admission, and diagnosis groups. Families of White infants had more frequent use compared with families of Black infants. Families of infants admitted for surgical reasons had more frequent use compared with those admitted for medical reasons. Among 284 of the 496 (57.3%) webcam users, we documented logins from 37 states in the United States and from 10 different countries.

Conclusion: Webcam use is common in the NICU. There was no increase in webcam use within the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in the NICU. More studies are needed to evaluate how this technology is used in the NICU and its impact on patients and families.



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