4 ways technology can improve pediatric care coordination

Wider implementation of available technology, such as mobile applications and web portals, could improve care coordination for children with complex chronic conditions, according to a report published this week by the Verizon Foundation and Boston Children's Hospital.

The paper, "Empowering Pediatric Care Coordination Through Technology," was written by Richard Antonelli--medical director of integrated care at Boston Children's Hospital and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School--and Andrey Ostrovsky, a pediatric resident in the Boston Combined Residency Program.

It sums up a discussion that took place at a Verizon Foundation event last December from a variety of stakeholders, including families, nonprofit organizations, quality-improvement experts, policymakers and technology leaders, according to an announcement.

"Healthcare delivery has barely begun to apply communications technology--but the time is now and the means are at hand," Antonelli wrote. "These innovations are broadly applicable and all people, regardless of age, will benefit."

One aspect of discussion was how to integrate care coordination with the Patient Engagement Framework, developed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the eHealth Collaborative.

The new paper organizes the discussion into technologies required for four aspects of a Care Coordination Framework:

  • Care coordination: Cloud-based platforms that would allow all members of the care team and families to effectively share information.
  • Care management: Secure, real-time transmission of biometric and other data required for clinical decision-making.
  • Education: Web portals and technologies such as text-based education programs can enhance the knowledge not only of caregivers, but clinical staff as well. They also can improve adherence to medication and treatment plans.
  • Policy: Proper incentives for the adoption of technology can help drive adoption of team-based care.

During the discussion, the use of social media was considered the "low-hanging fruit" in improving communication between families and caregivers, according to the report. Telehealth also was considered a way to improve care in instances when face-to-face meetings wouldn't necessarily add value.

Given healthcare's poor track record on interoperability, speakers also suggested looking to industries such as manufacturing, finance, and software development that already have promising practices for streamlining workflow and using technology to address complex problems.

The simultaneous maturation of patient-centered healthcare, social media and the Internet have created a "perfect storm" for connecting patents and providers, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School wrote in an editorial published earlier this year in BMJ Quality & Safety. The Bipartisan Policy Center echoed that view by releasing recommendations on how to better engage patients in their own care.

To learn more:
- read the report
- here's the announcement


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