Oceanside-based Tri-City Medical Center is teaming with UC San Diego Medical Center to offer telemedicine services for premature babies in greater San Diego.

Under the program, neonatal specialists from the two hospitals, which are separated by about 38 miles, will collaborate to diagnose and treat tough cases. They will use real-time, two-way audio/video connections to reduce the need for Tri-City’s 20-bassinet neonatal intensive care unit to transport patients to 49-bassinet UC San Diego.

The plan is for physicians, nurses and other health care professionals to collaborate for optimal outcomes as they learn various diagnoses firsthand by participating in live video streaming.

UC San Diego’s enterprise-wide telemedicine program has been up and running since 2009. The institution said a key feature of the program is that its “core workflow, checklists and deployment strategies can be integrated” into the clinical strategic plan of most any department at the medical center.

“When a complex case arises, our partners at Tri-City can request a consult and can contact us using the camera system,” said Dr. Brett C. Meyer, medical director of telemedicine for UC San Diego. “Our specialists can not only contribute to the care, but with telemedicine they are, in essence, virtually present in the room with the patient to render assistance.”

The state of California has awarded funding to UC San Diego to cover the costs of telemedicine equipment and maintenance, while a grant from the Tri-City Hospital Foundation will pay for the credentialing of UC San Diego physicians participating in the program.