News Releases

SGH and Singtel launch web-based bonding with ICU babies

Singapore, 11 April 2006 -- Singtel and SGH’s Department of Neonatal & Developmental Medicine today announced a new system known as ‘Virtual Visit’.

For the first time, parents and family members of newborns under the specialist care of SGH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can now view video images of the infant via broadband Internet or 3G mobile phones without being at the baby’s cot side.
Majority of the babies admitted to NICU are premature and the average length of stay is about two months.  Currently, only parents are allowed to visit their babies to prevent the high-risk infants from community-acquired infections.  Visit rights could be further restricted during an infectious disease outbreak.
Dr Yeo Cheo Lian, Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Neonatal & Developmental Medicine, said:  “It is physically challenging and emotionally draining for parents to maintain constant visits to the NICU, especially when the fathers work long hours or are overseas. Virtual Visit supplements parental contact and allows other family members to contribute to decision-making process that may be required during the course of the child’s stay in the NICU.
“Remote access enables this to be achieved regardless of location. It also allows other family members to bond with the baby and be involved in their care right from the beginning, giving parents the much-needed support.  Virtual Visit can help the entire family to be better involved in the discharge planning.”
Mr Bill Chang, Singtel’s Executive Vice President of Business, said, “We are pleased to work with SGH on this trial.  The innovative use of communication solutions complements hospital visits and also reduces the anxiety of parents whose babies are under intensive care.  Virtual Visit, which is based on Singtel’s eSurveillance service, works on Singtel's IP and 3G networks.  It offers users peace-of-mind and the convenience of viewing their loved ones from any location with broadband access or on their 3G handsets - even when they are overseas.”
Virtual Visit system on trial
The Virtual Visit system is currently on a three-month trial and three cameras have been installed during the trial period, with each camera focusing on an infant.  The service is provided at no charge to parents who fulfill the selection criteria.  Parents are given a unique user ID and password to access Singtel’s secure portal to view the video images of their infant.  Once the infant has been transferred or discharged, the user ID and password will no longer be valid.
Parents can access and be connected with their newborn regardless of location at the following designated times: 11am - 12.30pm, 5.30pm - 7pm, 11pm - 12.30am.
Based on parents’ inputs and needs, reviews and adjustments may be done on the timing of the scheduled visits. The Department plans to add three more cameras and extend the service to include post-discharge care and guidance.