An automated system to help pediatricians focus the health needs of each patient has been developed by researchers from Indiana University and the Regenstrief Institute.
A new study, "Automated Primary Care Screening in Pediatric Waiting Rooms," in the May 2012 issue of Pediatrics
found that by personalizing and automating the patient screening process and then alerting the physician to positive results of risk factors, the Child Health Improvement through Computer Automation System (CHICA) enables physicians to direct attention to the particular needs of the individual child and the child's family.
"Research has shown that what is recommended for well-child pediatric visits greatly exceeds what is practical to accomplish," said senior study author Stephen Downs, M.D., IU School of Medicine associate professor of pediatrics and a Regenstrief Institute investigator. "CHICA prescreens so the physician can focus on what needs to be done for each individual child. The computer picks 20 questions to be answered by the family based on what's known about that family — for example someone living in the household smokes or the child has previously been diagnosed with asthma."
CHICA uses information acquired from a child's parent or other family member in the waiting room — along with pre-existing data from the Regenstrief Medical Record System, the nation's oldest continually operational electronic medical record system — to provide critical information and clinical reminders to pediatricians.
Family members use a pencil and paper to answer targeted questions, and responses are scanned into the electronic medical record before the pediatrician sees the child. If the parent has indicated that the child lives with a smoker, for example, CHICA will prompt the pediatrician to discuss smoking cessation programs as well as dangers of second-hand smoke.