Five features to look for in a pediatrics EHR

Pediatric EHRs occupy an important role in pediatrics practices in that they provide a range of practice-specific features that improve the quality of care. The American Academy of Pediatrics has described the use of pediatric-specific EHR systems as a way to increase patient safety through “standardization of care and reducing errors and variability in documentation and communication of patient data.” Considering this recommendation pediatrics EHRs features found in pediatric-specific tools, include well-child visit tracking, a graphical representation of growth tracking analysis, immunization tracking and forecasting, and support for weight-based drug dosing.

1. Well-child visits tracking

Well-child visits account for nearly half of healthcare visits made by children in the United States. Therefore tracking these visits occupy an important role in pediatric health maintenance and disease prevention and should be included as a feature in an paediatrics EHR.  Well-child visit tracking should provide alerts based on patient history and if included with practice management software should provide patient reminders to inform parents or guardians when patients are due for these visits.  

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2. Graphical representation of growth tracking analysis

Pediatric practices collect important data concerning a child's health and development based on weight, height, head circumference and BMI over time. These measurements are viewed longitudinally to ensure a child is meeting key growth and development milestones. Visual plots of growth and development metrics contained in an EHR provide an intuitive way to graphically display the progression of growth metrics over and against time against curves of predicted growth or percentile curves.

3. Immunization tracking and forecasting

A pediatric practice should be able to use its EHR to record and track immunizations and should be compliant with the web of state and federal regulations that require documentation of immunizations. Immunization tracking and forecasting functionality in a pediatric EHR can offer practices the ability to record immunization administration such as the manufacturer, lot number, date, site, route of administration, and expiration date and provide a reminder when the patient is due for further immunizations.

4. Support for weights-based drug dosing

Pediatric drug dosages are calculated based on body weight. Pediatric EHRs should feature a method of tracking a patient's current body weight and incorporating these data into prescribing information and generate a recommended dosage. When weight is not inputted it should prompt the user to provide this information. When a current body weight is available, the EHR system should include it into the prescribing module process and suggest doses using clinical standards.

5. Adolescent privacy

Privacy is a particularly important consideration when treating pediatric patients.  Therefore an EHR should be adaptable to support privacy policies that vary by age and should be sensitive to both federal and state privacy and consent guidelines that can vary by jurisdiction. Generally, this functionality should also handle record-keeping for consent for treatment, including assent for treatment (from a minor) and parental informed consent.

Just as other specialty practices, pediatricians require special functionality from an EHR. Just as with other specialty areas general EHR features often are not suitable to fulfill the function of providing quality of care

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Jeff Green

About the author…

Jeff Green, MPH, JD works as a freelance writer and consultant in the Healthcare information Technology Space.

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Jeff Green

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