Families often search for an answer on ways to be close to their neonate even when they cannot be physically close. After a preterm delivery, some neonates can remain hospitalized for months prior to discharge. Many families do not have the luxury to stay with their baby 24/7 while their baby is in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). If one parent can remain with the baby, the other parent often must return home to care for other children or return to work.

Technology can be a way to provide closeness for the family when they can’t be physically there. In addition to parents using technology to connect with their baby, grandparents and extended family are important people to the newborn family’s network of support. Some families use the technology as a way to keep everyone connected with the baby’s medical progress.

Over the past few years while developing a web camera system at UAMS, I have talked with staff from hospitals across the US about their search for ways to connect the family through various ways.

Some hospitals have decided to use various technologies to make this connection happen. At present, there are two commercially available systems, NicView and Angel Eye. Many hospitals have decided to make a capital investment in these programs where families use a password and connect to a secure livestream to their neonate.

Other hospitals have decided to go for a less structured approach, such as using facetime on an iPad or using Skype. These systems require more time investment from the nurses or NICU staff, but can be easily used. Even though the technology is cheap, the staff time is where the cost is in this process.

Technology can make a positive impact in bringing families together. These connections can increase bonding between the mother, father and baby.