Startup uses camera and web site to extend visiting hours for preemies

NICVIEW has brought web cams to the NICU. The Louisville company has a camera system and a web site that lets parents and other family members check in on premature babies at any time.

Hospitals buy the system and give an account to each family with a baby in the unit. Parents then share the log in information with family and friends.

A nurse controls the system through a portal where she can see all the babies and shut off the cameras or post notes to family members. There is also a privacy button on each camera.

For parents and family members, the webcam is more like watching a online video than using Skype. The only requirement is a web browser.
CTO Dominic Foster said that by tracking user data, he has noticed that people log on multiple times a day from different devices.


“Our goal is to make it insanely simple so that it works across every platform from a solider’s Tough Book in Afghanistan to an iPhone,” Foster said.

Foster said that some hospitals have noticed an increase in breast milk production among mothers with access to a NICVIEW camera.

The system includes a camera, arm, software and a server. The Panasonic camera is mounted on an IV pole or on the isolette. NICVIEW built the software inside the camera as well as the web portal and web site. The systems are $25,000 to $150,000, depending on hospital size and the number of cameras installed. Expense per unit is about $700. The system could also be used to deliver customer satisfaction surveys.

Foster said NICVIEW wanted to make sure nurses are comfortable with the system because “adoption by the nursing staff is make or break.” Ten hospitals have rolled out the system and 30 more are doing pilot tests.

“We really had no idea how much people were going to use it,” co-founder and president Blake Rutherford said. “It’s an astronomical number of how many people log in daily and how many devices we see per day.”

Some doctors are concerned about the potential liability of recordings from the system being used against a hospital. Rutherford said that the system is HIPAA compliant and that the system is design to make recording the images difficult.

Rutherford was a NICU sales rep for a decade before starting NICVIEW. He said that the company has seen a big increase in growth and that within the last year sales have grown enough to keep the company going.

“A lot of the systems are funded by hospital foundations or a local Rotary club,” he said. “Interest is all over and we expect an increase in market share this year.”

NICVIEW provides technical support 24 hours a day and has access to all the cameras in use on the system to make them private or change the angle. The company was founded in 2010 and started marketing the system in 2011.

[Image from Tri-City Medical Center Facebook page]

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