Pediatric EMRs Getting Their Fair Share of the HIT Spotlight

I was pleasantly surprised a few weeks ago when I walked into the office of my daughter’s pediatrician and saw a computer monitor and keyboard ready to be unwrapped and plugged in – presumably to an electronic medical record. Perhaps by our next visit, the doctor would already be familiar with my daughter’s trip to the emergency room in another town, and the results of a visit to a specialist a few weeks later.

It seems that pediatrics is getting more and more of the healthcare IT spotlight, as a number of recent articles and studies can attest. In a recent issue of its journal Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for advances in health informatics, specifically advocating the use of electronic medical records (EMRs).

The association also emphasized the important role EMRs could play in pediatric medical homes:

  • timely and continuous managementand tracking of health data and services over a patient’s lifetime for all providers, patients, families, and guardians;
  • comprehensiveorganization and secure transfer of health data during patient-caretransitions between providers, institutions, and practices;
  • establishment and maintenance of central coordination ofa patient’s health information among multiple repositories (includingpersonal health records and information exchanges);
  • translationof evidence into actionable clinical decision support; and
  • reuse of archived clinical data for continuous quality improvement.

This type of technology would be beneficial, for example, during those long nights of monitoring a child’s illness in between nurse calls. Inputting symptom and at-home treatment descriptions, such as temperature and dosage, into a pediatric health record at regular intervals throughout the night would the next morning provide a pediatrician a better overall picture of a child’s illness.

Pre-configured alerts based on a combination of age, weight, temperature and other symptoms would also be beneficial, as they could indicate the caregiver needs to call a nurse line or take the child to the emergency room. The child’s pediatrician or on-call nurse could receive a similar alert, letting them know a new action has been taken on the part of the caregiver.

And wouldn’t it be nice to somehow send your child’s immunization forms from a personal health record directly and securely to the daycare or school that needs them? A parent can dream, can’t they?

Jennifer Dennard is Social Marketing Director for Atlanta-based Billian’s HealthDATA and Porter Research.

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