Innovation That Matters

Hospital surveillance

Secure application lets parents keep watch on hospitalized babies


A web system lets parents of premature and ill babies keep a distant eye on their offspring.

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Leaving premature babies in hospital incubators for long periods can be agony for parents, but a new initiative launched in France can take away some of the pain and yearning. Cordon Numérique (English translation – Digital Cord) connects parents to their babies using a webcam placed above the incubator, so all the parents need is a computer, smartphone or tablet to see videos of their baby.

The Hopen Project has been working on this system for two years, in conjunction with Aquitaine Destination (a French charity dedicated to helping children in hospital). There are now 16 cameras in place at the Pellegrin University Hospital’s neonatology department in Bordeaux. The infrastructure was designed with the hospital staff in mind – one huge touchscreen called the BBWall shows all 16 feeds, and when a baby is particularly awake or active the staff then record a 30-second clip which is sent to the parent via an email link. Both the Hopen Project and Aquitaine Destination are keen to see this spread across all of France soon.

When proud parents receive the clips, they can share them with relatives and the software lets users leave comments on each clip.

It’s great to see any advancements that help poorly children and their families. Norway’s No Isolation avatar helps sick children participate in school even when bed-bound, and in Britain the My MRI VR app helps children prepare for the often worrying MRI scan. Is Cordon Numérique something you’d like to see in your local maternity hospital?



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