Closing the children's healthcare gap

It's never fun to be reminded that big quality gaps still exist in our healthcare system. It's even more troubling to learn, as we did this week, that care for children isn't up to par with the care adults get.

As a healthcare industry observer (and, I'll admit, as a mom to a preschooler and second-grader), I'm upset by the idea that children are getting cross-the-Ts and dot-the-Is care less than half of the time. But furrowing our collective brow doesn't do anything, obviously. The question is how to address the problem.

To start with, of course, studies like this week's are great--after all, you can't fix a problem you can't define. Another worthwhile initiative is a new bill, currently being considered in the U.S. Senate, which would allocate $100 million over five years to develop quality measures specifically for children's healthcare.

But surveys and studies can only go so far. Ultimately, studies like these should spark some soul-searching by physicians and hospitals, and with any luck, some concrete examinations of how they go about keeping children well. In particular, healthcare providers could take a look at every point at which they touch children, including not only doctor-child interaction, but also their work with nurses, tech and administrative staff. There's probably lots of points at which you could engage with parents more effectively to make sure the child gets what they need.

Realistically, with a gap this large, it's going to take lot a to close the children's healthcare gap. But taking a look at small day-to-day interactions between children, parents and the entire care team seems like a good start. - Anne