Cost analysis of neonatal tele-homecare for preterm infants compared to hospital-based care

Maja K. Rasmussen*, Jane Clemensen, Gitte Zachariassen, Kristian Kidholm, Anne Brødsgaard, Anthony C. Smith, Kristina G. Holm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Introduction: Neonatal homecare (NH) can be used to provide parents the opportunity of bringing cardiopulmonary-stable preterm infants home for tube feeding and the establishment of breastfeeding supported by neonatal nurses visiting the home. However, home visits can be challenging for hospitals covering large regions, and, therefore, regular neonatal hospital care has remained the first choice in Denmark. As an alternative to home visits, telehealth may be used to deliver NH. Thus, neonatal tele-homecare (NTH) was developed. Positive infant outcomes and the optimization of family-centred care have been described, but the costs of telehealth in the context of NH remain unknown. This study aims to assess the costs of NTH compared to regular neonatal hospital care, from the health service perspective. Methods: The cost analysis was based on an observational study of NTH in Denmark (run from November 2015 to December 2016) and followed the Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards. The intervention group were the families of preterm infants receiving NTH (n = 96). The control group comprised a historic cohort of families with preterm infants, receiving standard care in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) (n = 278). NTH infants and the historical group were categorized according to gestational age at birth at/under and over 32 weeks. The outcomes were NTH resource utilization, in-NICU hospital bed days, re-admissions and total costs on average per infant. The time horizon was from birth to discharge. Results: The costs of NTH resource utilization were, on average, €695 per infant, and the total costs per infant, on average, were €12,200 and €4200 for infants at/under and over 32 weeks, respectively. The corresponding costs of the control group were €14,300 and €4400. The difference in total costs showed statistical significance for the group of infants under 32 weeks (p < 0.001). Discussion: The cost analysis showed that NTH was less costly compared to regular hospital care, especially for infants born with gestational age at/under 32 weeks. NTH is an appropriate model of care for preterm infants and their families, is clinically effective and less expensive than similar services delivered in the hospital.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Telemedicine and Telecare
Issue number7-8
Pages (from-to)474-481
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Cost analysis
  • health economics
  • home telecare
  • telehealth


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