Child health improvement through computer automation

The latest innovation in medical care for children marries the high tech manufacturing "just-in-time" concept with increased parental participation in the health-care process to produce care guidelines for pediatricians individualized for each patient and delivered when they can do the most good -- at the time of the office visit.

A newly developed computer-based decision support system targeted to medicine's youngest patients utilizes hand-written information acquired from a child's parents within the waiting room, along with preexisting data from the nation's oldest continually operational electronic medical record to provide critical information and clinical reminders to pediatricians.

In a presentation of their work at the recent MedInfo 2004, the premier international meeting of the medical informatics community, researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute, Inc. introduced Child Health Improvement through Computer Automation: The CHICA System. CHICA combines patientrelevant pediatrics guidelines with information learned from the patient's family to enable the pediatrician to provide individually targeted care.

Upon arrival for the child's first appointment, the parent or other family member fills out a simple CHICA waiting room prescreening form, which includes questions specific to the age of the child and reason for visit. The handwritten responses are then scanned and uploaded into the computer system which generates customized items on a form used by the physician when he or she sees the patient. For example, if the parent has indicated that the child lives with a smoker, CHICA will prompt the pediatrician to discuss smoking cessation programs as well as dangers of second hand smoke. Information is tracked from clinic to clinic and from visit to visit.

"Multiple practitioners approached us during the pilot to tell us that the system had informed them of very important cl

Contact: Cindy Fox Aisen
Indiana University

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