For the Picard Center and many health care stakeholders in our state, a similar question often comes to mind: How can we improve the health care of Louisiana’s children? With more than 60% of the 700,000 public schoolchildren enrolled in Medicaid, one of the best places to begin is where a child spends much of his or her day – in school.
The Picard Center’s implementation of the Coordinated School Health initiative, in collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Education, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, and Carefx, prompted a demonstration project involving the implementation of electronic student health records in schools statewide.
Electronic student health records can be utilized and shared by school districts, clinics, local primary care physicians, and hospitals statewide. Within a matter of seconds, a patient’s entire medical history and information can be accessed.
The benefits of converting health records into an electronic format include:
- Increased accessibility to health information;
- Higher quality of health care;
- Reduced medical errors;
- Ability to analyze a population’s health (e.g. how many schoolchildren have asthma?);
- Increased communication with primary care physicians, parents, physical education teachers, etc.
- Improved access to care;
- Improved timeliness of care;
- Faster billing to insurance providers;
- Enhanced technology;
- Improved population health management; and
- Consistent protocols for nursing and mental health services at school sites.
By connecting electronic student health records with electronic medical health records currently being implemented in Louisiana, school districts will have immediate support from local hospitals and primary care physicians in their regions, thereby providing the poorest of Louisiana’s public schoolchildren with the highest quality of health care.
The first phase of implementation began with piloting the project in Sabine and St. Martin school districts in early 2011. In mid-January, Carefx trained the parishes’ school nurses and district administrators on the use of the electronic portal.
The Picard Center, in collaboration with Carefx, is currently testing the functionality of the site to create a more user-friendly and efficient system for school nurses. The initial phase of the pilot will measure early success of the program and will answer such questions as:
- How do electronic records impact nursing services?
- Is there a change in time spent finding and entering health data?
The second phase of the pilot will include performance metrics that answer such research questions as:
- Is there a change in the sharing of health data with family and other health providers?
- Do electronic records support data reporting?
- Do electronic records support population health analyses?
Next steps include obtaining funds to move the project to scale across the state.
If you would like to discuss your interest in electronic student health records, please call Health Sciences Director John LaCour at 225-763-5560 or Martha Bryant, Project Director of Research and Special Programs, at 337-482-1548.