Implementation of a fetal ultrasound telemedicine service: an evaluation of outcomes, women’s views and family costs

Smith, Vikki J., Marshall, Alison ORCID logo ORCID: , Lie, M.L.S., Bidmead, Elaine ORCID logo ORCID: , Beckwith, E., Van Oudgaarden, E. and Robson, Stephen C. (2021) Implementation of a fetal ultrasound telemedicine service: an evaluation of outcomes, women’s views and family costs. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 21 (38).

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Background: The complexity of fetal medicine (FM) referrals that can be managed within obstetric units is dependent on the availability of specialist ultrasound expertise. Telemedicine can effectively transfer real-time ultrasound images via video‐conferencing. We report the successful introduction of a fetal ultrasound telemedicine service linking a specialist fetal medicine (FM) centre and a remote obstetric unit.

Methods: All women referred for FM consultation from the obstetric unit were seen via telemedicine, excluding cases where invasive testing or cardiac anomalies were anticipated. The image quality was rated following each consultation. Women's experiences and family costs were evaluated by a questionnaire completed following the first telemedicine appointment during the first phase of the project.

Results: Overall, 297 women had a telemedicine consultation during Phase 1 (pilot and evaluation) and Phase 2 (embedding and adoption) of the project, which covered a four year period. There were 154 new and 143 follow-up consultations. Thirty-four women completed questionnaires during the Phase 1 of the study. Travel to the telemedicine consultation took a median time of 20 minutes (4,150), in comparison to an estimated journey of 229.8 minutes (120,450) to the FM centre. Women were generally satisfied with the service and valued the opportunity to have a FM consultation locally.

Conclusions: We have demonstrated that a fetal ultrasound telemedicine service can be successfully introduced to provide FM ultrasound of sufficient quality to allow fetal diagnosis and specialist consultation with parents. Furthermore, the service is acceptable to parents, has shown a reduction in family costs and journey times.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Publisher: BMC
ISSN: 1471-2393
Departments: Institute of Health > Midwifery
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.
Depositing User: Christian Stretton
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2020 07:52
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2024 11:45


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