Pediatricians call for EHRs to support medical home model

The establishment of family-centered medical homes for children will need to be backed up by timely, secure, and comprehensive electronic health records (EHRs), the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) Council on Clinical IT says in a newly released policy statement.

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," AAP said in its statement, which appears both online and in the May issue of the journal Pediatrics. For pediatricians, the core of such systems will be a "lifelong EHR."

However, many challenges and barriers need to be addressed to get more EHRs in pediatricians' offices, AAP said.

First, the electronic systems should be capable of interoperability--of possessing the ability to share data among different practitioners, along with insurers, billing/scheduling systems, and health information exchanges, AAP said. In particular, one central organizing entity should be established to oversee specific technical, legislative and advocacy efforts.

Also, financial incentives should be used to lessen the risks that small practices will take in acquiring and using EHRs--and in maintaining changes and upgrades, AAP said. The technical challenges in implementing electronic information systems in ambulatory settings, it noted, "are daunting for many practices," especially smaller ones.

Privacy laws will need to be balanced with concerns over confidentiality and sharing data with other providers. Also, clarification is needed on ownership of archived personal health information of children who have grown up and its reuse later on for quality care purposes.

For more information:
- view the AAP policy statement
- see the Medscape article