May 17, 2020

Webcams let parents see premature babies in ICUs

premature babies
2 min
Webcams are helping parents to see their babies in ICUs
Parents of premature babies are being given the chance to see their newborns on a 24-hour-a-day basis, thanks to webcams installed above their childs i...

Parents of premature babies are being given the chance to see their newborns on a 24-hour-a-day basis, thanks to webcams installed above their child’s incubator in intensive care units (ICUs).

St Jude Medical Center in California has installed the NICVIEW webcam technology in its neonatal intensive care unit and doctors at the centre believe it will enable parents to bond with their babies.

Laptops, tablet computers and smartphones with an internet connection can be used to access the video stream at any time of the day.  

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The service is password protected and each time parents want to see their child, they have to enter the log in details.

They can then choose to share the information with other family members as they wish.

St Jude Medical Center has reportedly spent around $1,000 for each camera and its accompanying service and technical fees, and one has been placed above all 14 of their incubators.

However, the Medical Director of the neonatal intensive care unit at the Center believes it is money well spent.

Speaking to news channel CNN, he said: “The family feels that they are really connected to their infant, which is important for bonding.

“In the past, the bonding process had to be instituted every few days,” he added.  

Blake Rutherford, a founder of the NICVIEW system added: “The NICU is a special example of a time when parents need that bonding experience,"

The webcam service is live for 24-hours-a-day and is only turned off during medical treatment, daily rounds or at the discretion of doctors of nurses.

Carole and Stephen Kang’s son, Spencer, was born prematurely at the St Jude Medical Center and weighed just 2 pounds 2 ounces.

The couple told CNN that they had benefitted hugely from the webcams and were even watching their son at 2am one day.

Mrs Kang said: “There were times in the middle of the night that I would have to see him. It would give me such a sense of relief.”

There are only a couple of other services like this currently in operation, at the UMass Memorial Medical Center in Massachusetts and at the Deaconess Women's Hospital in Indiana

Meanwhile, the Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center in California is also hoping to introduce the revolutionary NICVIEW system to its neonatal department within the next few weeks.

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May 13, 2021

Birdie aims to reinvent elderly care with tech

3 min
We take a look at homecare software startup Birdie, who are aiming to transform elderly care in the UK

British startup Birdie has announced it has raised £8.2 million to invest in innovation and scale up the business. 

The company's announcement is timely as it follows the criticism of the UK government over their lack of a plan for social care, despite acknowledging the sector is in crisis - around a quarter of the UK's home care providers are on the brink of bankruptcy due to a lack of funds and staffing. 

Birdie was born with a mission to  "radically improve the lives of millions of older adults", by using app-based solutions, IoT and machine learning to put preventative care at the forefront.  The company was founded by Max Parmentier,  after experiencing his own frustrations with the care system - his grandfather struggled with the impact of life in a care home, but lacked any other option. 

In 2017 Parmentier partnered with venture builder Kamet Ventures to  set up Birdie, in a bid to fix this problem. Since then, Birdie has partnered with almost 500 providers across the UK, and supports more than 20,000 older people every week. In the past 12 months alone the number of people Birdie supports has got six times greater. 

Birdie’s solution is an app to help care providers deliver more coordinated, personalised and preventative care, by giving them access to digital assessments, medication scheduling and planning tools. By using digital tools to take care of admin, staff have more time to spend with their care recipients. 

The new investment will be used to fund Birdie’s next phase of growth in the UK, as the company scales to meet the rapidly growing demand of the aging population. The company will also invest in product innovation, creating new features to address customer requests.

In addition, Birdie is piloting new care models, including partnering with the NHS to identify COVID-19 symptoms, building predictive pharmacy models with AI, and helping health authorities to detect early warning signs of patients’ health risks.

Internally, Birdie is committed to having a progressive company ethos. All salaries are transparent, and staff work asynchronously to maximise flexibility and equity. Staff members also volunteer in their local community during office hours, and the company offsets all its emissions.

These efforts have led to numerous awards, including having the best SME culture in the UK, an Honorable Mention in the Health category of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards, and innovation in care at the LangBuisson awards. 

“We believe the future of care for older people should be helping them to live at home for as long as possible through the delivery of personalised and preventative care" Parmentier said. 

"Birdie is already the partner of choice for caregivers up and down the UK, and this new funding will help us rapidly increase the number we partner with and what we can offer them - meaning more people benefiting from more affordable, quality care. We’re proud of our mission and the values we embody to pursue it.” 

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