Skip links and keyboard navigation

Skip to content Use tab and cursor keys to move around the page (more information)

Site header


Babycams deliver peace of mind to families

Published:  05 April 2024

For parents like Jane and Ethan Swartz, the permanent installation of Babycams, providing a 24/7 live stream of their pre-term daughter direct from Townsville University Hospital’s neonatal unit, is a game changer.

Baby Amara was born at 28 weeks and two days on 12 February, and with Ethan flood bound in their hometown of Karumba, the Babycams are keeping the family connected.

“I’m staying at Ronald McDonald House, and with Ethan in Karumba, we can we be together virtually, and Ethan can see Amara whenever he likes,” she said.

Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women Shannon Fentiman officially launched the Babycams on Wednesday.

The revolutionary cot-side cameras were a passion project for neonatologist Professor Yoga Kandasamy who oversaw a year-long pilot and research project before securing funding to permanently establish the innovation.

Starting five years ago with a dream and goodwill partnership with James Cook University, CSIRO, and Optus, Babycams are now live streaming from 50 cots.

“We couldn’t be more delighted to see this innovation as a permanent fixture in our unit and I want to thank the health service and Brighter Lives and their funders for this project, Glencore,” Yoga said.

Yoga said Babycams had changed the face of neonatal care in the region and the benefits were clear from both his research and his work as a frontline clinician.

“Our babies are often with us for a long time, sometimes many months, and this is very wearing on families, emotionally and physically, especially if they have other children and jobs,” he said.

“As the only tertiary neonatal unit for northern Australia, we look after babies from the Torres Strait islands to the Northern Territory border.

“Townsville also has the second-highest number of FIFO families in Australia, and this technology is helping to keep families connected.”

The Babycams have LED touch screens attached to the cots with USB ports that can transmit video, pictures, and text updates, removing the physical barriers that separate families from their babies while they are receiving care.

Since launching, the Babycams have delivered more than 800 hours of live streaming and more than 24,000 separate viewings.

Yoga said his research showed conclusively that when parents, especially mothers, could see their babies in real time they felt confident to leave the unit to spend time with their other children and look after their own mental and physical wellbeing.

“The research also anecdotally found that mothers could express breast milk more easily at home because they could see their babies in real time,” he said.

“Breast milk is critical to the survival, growth and development of preterm and unwell babies so this is another major benefit of the technology.”

Health service chief executive Kieran Keyes said he was thrilled to see the Babycams installed permanently at TUH.

“I am so pleased to see this innovation bringing peace of mind to families and I congratulate and thank the neonatal team and our funding partner Glencore,” he said.

“There are always bumps along the way, but Yoga and his team have never flinched backing the Babycams with qualitative research that has conclusively shown the value of this innovation to pre-term and unwell babies and families.”

Back to all News