Automated screening boosts pediatric care

Here's yet more evidence that using automated clinical decision support tools can help physicians treat patients. Pediatricians who used automated screening with their electronic medical records helped patients identify risks and follow the most appropriate guidelines for treatment, according to a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers, from the Indiana University School of Medicine and Regenstrief Institute, noted the difficulty of providing preventive care in busy urban clinics and determining which guidelines to follow when trying to treat the acute and chronic conditions that brought the patient in for treatment.

In the study, the researchers used a clinical decision support tool they developed called "Child Health Improvement Through Computer Automation" (CHICA) that encoded clinical guidelines to generate scannable paper forms. The patients and/or their parents completed the forms; the software evaluated the responses and generated custom worksheets for the physicians, which also contained alerts and reminders for the physicians regarding routine care and follow up, according to Medscape Medical News.

The researchers found that a "clinical decision support system integrated with electronic medical records offer a good strategy for implementing screening in waiting rooms." Almost all of the questions asked, 89 percent, elicited a response; of those, 11 percent identified a positive risk screen, such as ADHD, that could be addressed.

"By automating the process of screening and alerting the physician to those who screened positive, we have significantly decreased the burden of identifying relevant guidelines and screening of patient families in our clinics," the researchers said.

Other studies have corroborated that electronic clinical decision support can help treat children by generating easy to read clinical summaries to facilitate decision-making and even to speed up diagnoses of autism.

To learn more:
- here's the study's abstract
- check out the Medscape Medical News article