Children More Likely to Get Preventive Care When Parents Use Online Health Tools

Parents of young children who used integrated personal health records (PHRs) were more likely to get their children the nationally recommended number of preventive care visits, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Children up to two years old whose parents consulted their health plan’s PHR generally attended six or more well-child care visits by the time they were 15 months of age, researchers say. According to performance measures listed in the 2010 Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS), children between up to 15 months of age should attend at least six well-care visits. The visits include a complete physical examination, with special attention paid to whether the child is meeting normal developmental milestones.

Using any web-enabled device, PHRs allow patients to view parts of their medical record, including immunizations and after-visit instructions, and to manage appointments, refill prescriptions, check lab results, and securely communicate with their healthcare providers.

Researchers based their findings on a four-year study of more than 7,000 children aged zero to two years who were enrolled in Kaiser Permanente health plans in the Hawaii and northwest regions between January 2007 and July 2011. Key findings from the study include the following:

  • In the Northwest, children whose parents use Kaiser Permanente’s PHR at least once during the study period were 2.5 times more likely to attend all recommended well-child visits.
  • In Hawaii, children whose parents used the PHR were twice as likely to attend all well-child visits.
  • Children whose parents used the PHR in the Northwest were 1.2 times more likely to receive their recommended immunizations; the results were statistically non-significant in Hawaii.

Researchers found the online tool to be particularly valuable for busy parents who might forget when to bring their children in for well-child visits or immunizations, especially when they are healthy.

More than 4.3 million members are registered to use Kaiser Permanente’s PHR, My Health Manager. In the first half of this year, patients viewed 17.5 million lab test results, sent 7.4 million secure e-mails to their care providers, refilled 7.1 million prescriptions and scheduled 1.8 million appointments, according to Kaiser Permanente officials. Members can also view their medical records and manage the health of their children and other family members.

Kaiser Permanente’s My Health Manager and similar PHRs can help patients better manage their care by providing timely, easy access to important health information. If properly designed and implemented, PHRs can help patients manage their health information and become full partners in the quest for good health, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This study is part of Kaiser Permanente’s ongoing efforts to deliver transformational health research regarding pediatric health. In May, Kaiser Permanente researchers found that young children who missed more than half of recommended well-child visits had up to twice the risk of hospitalization compared to children who attended most of their visits. The study, which included more than 20,000 children enrolled at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, also found that children with chronic conditions like asthma and heart disease were even more likely to be hospitalized when they missed visits.

Source: Kaiser Permanente, October 10, 2013

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