Keep Baby Safe at Home and Away from the Hospital During COVID-19 Crisis

March 20, 2020

‘We are all in this together’ is a hopeful rallying cry common in today’s new world.  We take this seriously at NeoLight because we believe everyone can and must do something to help. Imagine a mom and dad being sent by their pediatrician to the hospital to drop off their 3-day old baby for jaundice treatment. Empathize with the caregivers’ additional burden of keeping this baby safe while managing phototherapy, which can’t wait without risking severe consequences. Wouldn’t you do anything you could to help keep any baby away from the hospital? At NeoLight, we are making it possible for babies to stay safely at home and receive the care they need.  

Jaundice Routine but Critical

Neonatal jaundice is the yellow discoloration of a newborn baby’s skin and eyes. Neonatal jaundice occurs because the baby’s blood contains excessive amount of bilirubin, a yellow pigment of our red blood cells1.  

Neonatal jaundice is a common condition that usually occurs because a baby’s liver isn’t mature enough to get rid of the bilirubin in the bloodstream. An unusually high blood level of bilirubin (hyperbilirubinemia) can place a newborn at risk of brain damage or death because bilirubin is toxic to cells of the brain. Worldwide, over 100,000 babies die each year from untreated neonatal jaundice and another 60,000 babies suffer permanent brain damage2.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines recommend that newborn babies are examined for jaundice after discharge from the hospital when the baby is between 3 and 5 days old3.

Mild neonatal jaundice often disappears on its own within two or three weeks. For moderate to severe jaundice, the neonate will require immediate treatment4.

Abort the Launch

Or rather, divert the launch and keep baby at home. At NeoLight, we were launching our bilirubin phototherapy light bed in hospitals when COVID-19 took hold. Immediately we understood that promoting new technology in hospitals was not appropriate and would distract caregivers from critical COVID-19 tasks.

We realized that we could stay true to our focus of keeping babies healthy by turning our attention to jaundice care in the home. Treatment in the home which was historically the standard of care is best for everyone in normal times as well.

Out in the Sun

Historically many cases of jaundice were handled in the home by putting baby near a window in the sun to break down the bilirubin. Later, phototherapy lights were created to improve this process, but these early devices were cumbersome making it difficult for parents to comply, which meant home care was not successful. In addition, reimbursement for companies providing phototherapy equipment in the home is not attractive. These factors drove jaundice treatment back to the hospital, making phototherapy the number one reason for neonatal hospital readmission.5

Homeward Bound

Neolight’s Skylife Phototherapy system is FDA cleared for home and hospital use. During our research of the market, we discovered the costly readmission burden and began strategizing ways to partner with hospitals and clinics to move phototherapy back home where it belongs with Skylife’s more effective and compliant technology.

When COVID-19 came, we expedited this process by cutting red tape and providing free Skylife phototherapy units on loan to hospitals and clinics for home use. We are communicating our free loaner unit program with the help of our supporters, such as Ben Roethlisberger who is getting the word out via social media. (Link to Ben’s Facebook post: )

Empathy Driven Innovation

NeoLight is a company founded out of Arizona State University by graduate students from India. The founders selected jaundice as a great area of focus because innovation was lacking, and the worldwide need is great. They quickly understood that spectral power, including maximum body surface coverage and quality and intensity of light, is most important to effectively treat jaundice.6  

Skylife was created to maximize spectral power with empathy for babies & parents, caregivers, hospitals & clinics.

About the Author

Jeffrey Bradford is the Chief Commercial Officer of NeoLight. He has 25 years' experience marketing medical devices for mother and baby.

  6. Fundamentals of Phototherapy for Neonatal Jaundice Stokowski, A., Laura Advances in Neonatal Care, 2011, Vol.11 Suppl 5S, pp.S10-S21

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