Are schools part of the healthcare system?
Children's Hospital Colorado and New York-based CareDox—which offers a platform for K-12 schools to better track and facilitate health services to the kids in their care—are working to ensure they are.
Children's Hospital, as well as the University of Colorado School of Medicine, announced they are collaborating with CareDox to scale the hospital's in-school asthma management program. The program will be made available to the 7,000 schools where CareDox student health record platform and wellness services are deployed.
The expectation is to improve outcomes for kids with asthma across the U.S., said Robin Deterding, M.D., who is director of the Breathing Institute at Children's Hospital and medical director of the Hospital's Center for Innovation.
Deterding said the hospital's innovation center is regularly approached by startups seeking to access clinical ideas and inputs to address healthcare problems. They saw a match with the CareDox technology platform and the hospital's Building Bridges for Asthma Care Program.
Deployed in elementary schools in Denver in 2012, the program was developed by Stanley Szefler, M.D., the hospital's director of pediatric asthma research. It helps school nurses train their students on asthma management. In a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, participants in the program experienced a 22% drop in school absenteeism and an 80% decline in hospitalizations and urgent care visits among pediatric asthma patients.
"Even though schools may not want to be a medical healthcare delivery system, they are," Deterding told FierceHealthcare.
Particularly, for kids from chaotic homes or experiencing other social determinants that could negatively impact their health, the schools are the safety net, she said.
"As a provider, you only see them for the blink of an eye. But they almost live in the schools and that is where they have the most structure," Deterding said. "So linking complicated chronic disease with the connection into the schools, to have a structure that can help guide the schools in a smart way, is key."
The CareDox platform will help schools monitor high-risk students and coordinate the management of their disease with information from their providers, said Hesky Kutscher, CEO of CareDox. It isn't paid for by schools, but by insurers who have a financial interest in the improved management of the illness among pediatric patients.
"It's a No. 1 chronic disease for kids, it's hurting the children's ability to achieve in life," Kutscher said. "It costs the health insurers a lot of money and it costs the economy a lot of money. This is a real pain point in society and the worst part is it's preventable. We can keep these kids healthy and in school and achieving."