IPad app helps newborns with complications stay at home

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ROANOKE, Va. (CBS) Taking home a baby born with complications can be a daunting task for many new parents, but now more hospitals are using iPads and cutting-edge technology to aid in their recovery.

Meet four-month old Elliyon Horace. He's thriving now, but in his first week of life he needed surgery to repair a heart defect and spent about a month in the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Virginia Children's Hospital.

"Seeing all those tubes everywhere -- he's not able to do anything," Flossie Taylor, Elliyon's grandmother and legal guardian.

When he was discharged, she brought him home along with an iPad with an app that allows her to give the hospital regular updates on his recovery.

"I'm putting his weight, his pulse and what he eats," said Dr. Jeff Vergales, Elliyon's pediatric cardiologist. "I can look at every data point from what he did."

Vergales helped develop the technology with a company called Locus Health, to track everything a parent puts in, from oxygen levels to how much a baby eats.

"What we've done is basically be able to create a platform that allows us to do the same thing that our phenomenal nurses are doing at the bedside every day and training the parents to be able do it," Dr. Vergales said. "What we can then do is look at those patients the same way as if they were sitting in the hospital."

The hospital has sent about 170 babies home with this technology and in most instances they haven't needed to be admitted back to the hospital.

"The goal of what we're trying to do is to be able to get kids home sooner and more safely than we've ever been able to do before," Dr. Vergales said.

Taylor says she's grateful doctors are able to keep a close eye on Elliyon from far away. "I love the iPad. It helps out a lot. Like I said, it gave me more assurance that I know what I'm doing," she said.

And more confidence her grandson's health is on the right track.

Currently 15 hospitals are sending families home with this technology. Babies are usually monitored remotely for three months.