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Health information systems need to address pediatric needs

Research Activities, June 2009, No. 346

Because adults are the largest consumers of health care services, health information technologies have concentrated on that population's needs. As these information technologies mature, however, they should also begin to address the unique needs of children, suggest Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality researchers Patrick H. Conway, M.D., M.Sc., P. Jonathan White, M.D., and Carolyn Clancy, M.D. For example, electronic health records (EHRs) should be able to measure weight in grams, record childhood immunizations, calculate medication dosages based on weight, provide pediatric growth charts, and permit a temporary patient number to identify infants until parents obtain a Social Security number (which many EHRs use as a patient number).

Health information systems should also be equipped to handle the privacy issues adolescents face, including laws that require parental notification and changes in foster care guardians. Further, because many States are striving to provide better health records for foster children, health information systems should also permit information sharing among providers.

The authors recommend that individuals involved in pediatric medicine engage public and private funders of health information technology projects to encourage implementation of systems that address pediatric concerns. State Medicaid and private payers could also offer financial incentives to pediatric practices to adopt EHRs, as cost is often the greatest barrier in adopting them.

See "The public role in promoting child health information technology," by Drs. Conway, White, and Clancy in the January 2009 Pediatrics 123(Supplement 2), pp. S125-S127. Reprints (AHRQ Publication No. 09-R038) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

Page last reviewed June 2009
Internet Citation: Health information systems need to address pediatric needs: Research Activities, June 2009, No. 346. June 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.