Cost implications of introducing a telecardiology service to support fetal ultrasound screening

R Dowie, Hema Mistry, TA Young, RC Franklin, HM Gardiner

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    A district hospital in south-east England used a telecardiology service for fetal cardiac diagnosis alongside an existing arrangement for referring pregnant women directly to perinatal cardiologists in London for detailed fetal echocardiography. Women were identified for referral according to local protocols when having a second trimester anomaly scan. For the telemedicine referrals, the sonographers video-recorded images from the anomaly scans for transmission during monthly videoconferences. The cost of the women's antenatal care was calculated from the specialist assessment until delivery, while family costs were collected in a postal survey. Over 15 months, telemedicine was used in 52 cases, while 24 women were seen in London. The London women were more likely to have had an ultrasound abnormality (29% v 10%, P = 0.047). A telemedicine assessment of 5 min duration was more costly than an examination in London (mean cost per referral of pound206 v pound74, P <0.001). However, the telecardiology service was cost neutral after 14 days and for the extended period until delivery. Travel costs for London women averaged pound37 compared with pound5.50 for the telemedicine referrals. Telemedicine may be useful to support perinatal cardiologists in the UK whose workloads are expanding in response to improved standards in antenatal ultrasound screening.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)421-6
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Telemedicine and Telecare
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


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