AHRQ to ID 'core' functionalities for pediatric EHRs

Electronic health records geared toward pediatric care should focus on several fundamental functionalities if they're going to have a positive effect on children, according to a new draft technical brief prepared for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

There's a demand for pediatric-oriented EHRs, but current products are not tailored to the treatment of children. Complicating matters, the model pediatric EHR created over 700 requirements pertaining to pediatric functionality; the sheer number of them and the lack of prioritization may have had a "paralyzing" effect on vendors. In addition, different organizations have made inconsistent recommendations regarding what functionalities should be in an EHR geared toward pediatrics.

The draft technical brief, entitled "Core Functionality of Pediatric Electronic Health Records," is designed to identify key functionalities to describe current practice and provide a framework for future research, using literature review and discussions with key informants. Core functionalities that should be contained in a pediatric EHR include:

  • Vaccinations and immunizations
  • Well-child care visits and development issues
  • family dynamics
  • Privacy limits for adolescents, who in many instances can bar parental access to the record
  • Pediatric conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and asthma
  • Medication management
  • Growth charts  

"As pediatric-specific functionalities are added to more EHRs, we expect to see a great improvement in satisfaction of pediatric clinicians and in the quality of care provided to children," the brief concludes.

The draft brief has not been formally adopted by AHRQ; comments are being accepted on the brief until Dec. 22.

Studies have shown that EHRs can improve the health of children in many different ways, including prevention of illness and identification of potential risks. However, pediatric care differs significantly from adult care, and pediatricians have long been stymied by lack of pediatric-specific EHRs. The leading pediatric preventive care guidelines in the U.S., Bright Futures, is not yet available in EHR format and would need to be substantially modified for conversion.

To learn more:
- access the brief and comment on it