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Screen smart: a modern, digital approach for pediatricians

Aaron Sin, MD

A mobile-first, digital screen experience for patients and their families.

Well child visits are universally recognized as essential for managing children's health and development. A critical element of these visits is the use of clinically validated, standardized screening tools. These tools are indispensable for a thorough view of a child's well-being, playing a pivotal role in the early detection of potential health issues. Early detection is crucial, giving pediatricians, along with patients and their families, time to implement timely interventions for better health outcomes. However, pediatric practices often encounter significant challenges in effectively utilizing these screening tools.

Shortcomings with existing EMR systems

While electronic medical record (EMR) systems are the natural technology solution for using pediatric screening tools, they are littered with a plethora of limitations:

  • Manual data entry: Most EMRs rely on practices to use paper screening tools forms, with results stored in the EMR as manually scanned and uploaded documents. This usually translates to important screening summary interpretations buried in visit notes, with detailed results even harder to access.
  • Scoring and amending difficulties: Without a digital experience, completed screens to be manually scored in a labor-intensive and error-prone process. Even when a screen is completed digitally, if a child’s or parent’s responses need to be corrected, this is not possible— screens need to be re-done and re-scored.
  • Participation hurdles: Paper forms are rarely completed in advance and difficult to finish during busy well child visits. Even when made available digitally, children and their families often struggle with completion given administration errors and trouble accessing screening tools often buried within a web-only patient portal.
  • Subpar integrations: Since EMRs rarely have native support for digital screening tools, they instead turn to unreliable third party integrations (if this is offered at all). Integration limitations force the import of result PDFs that need to be manually moved into a child’s charts, and common administration errors with screens sent to the wrong person and/or at the wrong time.

The wide variety of screens used in well child visits, including those for developmental milestones, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and behavioral health conditions further exacerbates these difficulties.

Patient safety gap

A notable issue with existing digital screens is the lack of workflows to address critical or abnormal results that a child or parent may submit in advance of a well child visit. In particular, critical results such as suicidal ideation and severe depression can remain completely unaddressed until the visit— or even worse, never reviewed if a visit is rescheduled or cancelled. This obvious patient safety gap, and potential legal liability for practices, stems from subpar integrations that are unable to work with question-level detailed results, nor notify a pediatrician of critical or abnormal results.

EMR workflow for pediatrician editing of screen results submitted ahead of a well child visit.

Reimagining the pediatric screen experience

We should set a much higher bar on how pediatric screens used in well child visits. Envision a new end-to-end approach centered around:

  • Mobile digital forms: Screens are automatically sent to the right child or parent ahead of a well child visit via text message, and can be completed on any smartphone without needing to login to a clunky patient portal. Regular reminders are sent to drive up screen completion ahead of visits, with sophisticated logic to ensure that where appropriate screens are re-linked to rescheduled visits.
  • Dynamic EMR workflows: Screen results flow into the EMR in a fully digital format, enabling pediatricians to easily edit responses, re-score a screen, and trend results over time. Sharing detailed screen results with specialists is just a click away.
  • Immediate critical and abnormal result alerts: Critical results (e.g., suicidal ideation, severe depression) trigger instant notifications to ensure they are rapidly reviewed by a pediatrician. Abnormal results likewise flow into a queue for review ahead of a visit.

Automated screen scoring and interpretation for pediatrician review.

The Develo difference

The reimagined screen smart experience is not aspirational— it already exists with the Develo EMR tailored for independent pediatric practices. Our modern digital screen approach is all about delivering an exceptional experience for families while maintaining clinically appropriate workflows for pediatric practices, all without unreliable third-party dependencies or integration headaches. If you're interested in learning more about how Develo can revolutionize your pediatric practice, stay tuned for our next update, or reach out to us directly. Pediatric care reimagined— we're excited to share it with you!

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