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5/5/2011
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EHRs Deemed 'Essential' To Pediatric Healthcare

Electronic health records and other IT systems support "medical home" concepts of information sharing, care coordination, and evidence-based medicine, said American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is calling electronic health records (EHRs) and other information technology "essential" to success of the medical home model of providing quality healthcare management for children. Likewise, IT systems must be able to support the goals of the medical home, according to the professional society.

"Medical home information-management systems must facilitate accurate, real-time collection, storage, retrieval, review, and communication of patient health information over time and across providers. For pediatrics, the core of such systems is a lifelong, electronic health record (EHR)," according to an AAP policy statement in the May issue of Pediatrics.

The patient-centered medical home--or, in the case of pediatrics, the family-centered medical home--is a concept that emphasizes care coordination and prevention, in which each person has an ongoing relationship with a primary care physician for health services at all stages of life. The idea is to promote healthy behavior while also improving the quality, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of care by automating the many repetitive tasks in healthcare and reducing redundant services such as duplicate diagnostic testing.

The AAP was among the organizations that developed this idea, along with the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, and the American Osteopathic Association.

"The medical home model is the central organizing principle for healthcare management for all children, including those with special healthcare needs," said the policy statement, attributed to the AAP's Council on Clinical Information Technology.

"The medical home must centralize and support the primary-care relationship between the patient/family and healthcare provider through well-designed and well-implemented health information management," the statement continued. The technology, according to the AAP, should help pediatric practices apply the latest medical evidence in order to deliver high-quality services and coordinate care between primary and specialty providers. "To maximize the efficiency and safety of pediatric care, information systems must connect and facilitate clear communication among all partners within the care network," the council stated.

"Real-time availability of patient information from the medical home to other entities (i.e., to patients, families, pharmacies, laboratories, hospitals, emergency departments, immunization information systems, registries, other practices) requires the establishment of secure and compliant healthcare information communications networks. Such networks and all tools (e.g., personal health records, electronic prescribing, ambulatory order entry, secure messaging, and data entry) that access patient information from the medical home must support information assurance in transit (and at rest) between entities or electronic applications," the policy statement said.

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