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    Improve your practice with behavior evaluation and management portals

    For years, medical practices have burdened patients with filling out previsit questionnaires and screening forms, but now tech-savvy practices can expedite behavior assessment screenings with enrolled patients electronically via online communication portals.

    To continue our ongoing theme of “taking back” the practice of pediatrics for ourselves and our patients, I’d like to discuss utilizing behavior portals to facilitate the diagnosis of patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), developmental delay, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as depression and anxiety. By transitioning to a portal-based screening system you can expedite assessments, eliminate unneeded paperwork, and improve office workflow.

    Related: What's new in "connected" devices?

    Why portals?

    In the digital age, parents as well as medical providers use computers and mobile devices to accomplish everyday tasks. Although pediatricians struggle with onerous and poorly designed electronic health records (EHRs), most parents prefer to communicate electronically whenever possible. We have long ago grown weary of waiting on hold to talk with a “person” to help us resolve life’s problems, so this method is rapidly becoming a means of “last resort.” We pay bills via banking portals, get the least expensive travel reservations online, and use live “chat” with support agents on websites to resolve problems with vendors. Many of us have discovered that online shopping is the best way to get a needed item inexpensively and with quick delivery (thank you, Amazon Prime!). These innovations have become so popular so quickly because everyone’s time is valuable. Additionally, we are easily persuaded to try new things because social media has long ago assuaged our fears of communicating via the Internet.

    We are less paper dependent!

    For years, medical practices have burdened patients with filling out previsit questionnaires, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) forms, financial forms, and more. My May 2013 Peds v2.0 article “Winning the pediatric office paper chase” discussed how practices could move away from our dependency on paper. Now, nearly 2 years later, tech-savvy practices have learned that they can capture patient signatures digitally into practice management software, and many are connecting with enrolled patients via EHR communication portals! We are still nowhere near the achievement of a true “paperless” office, but technology has helped motivate parents to seek more efficient ways to communicate with providers, and vice versa.

    Currently, the majority of pediatric practices use paper questionnaires to screen patients for developmental concerns, autism, ADHD, as well as for depression and anxiety, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Also of note is that the recently updated Bright Futures guidelines now recommend that pediatricians screen adolescents for drug-related concerns by using the CRAFFT (Car, Relax, Alone, Forget, Friends, Trouble) tool. (See “New screening recommendation from the AAP.”)


    Andrew J Schuman, MD, FAAP
    Dr Schuman, section editor for Peds v2.0, is clinical assistant professor of Pediatrics, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, ...


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