While pediatricians primarily treat full-term babies, they also see their share of premature infants who often have complex medical problems.
In May 2011, health care professionals were offered an added resource in the Toolkit for the Follow-up Care of the Premature Infant. The web-based interactive site was developed to assist clinicians in the transition of the premature infant from hospital to outpatient care, facilitate the accurate transfer of pertinent patient information and help provide evidence-based practical measures for consideration in the care of the premature infant. It includes sections on discharge planning and outpatient follow-up care, and features resources for parents/caregivers and tools for healthcare providers.
And now, the clinical assessment tools in the Toolkit have been integrated into PCC EHR to further enhance the quality and continuity of care healthcare professionals can provide for the premature infant.
Currently, PCC EHR users can request to receive a free installation of the new preemie protocols that are designed to be added to the general Bright Futures well visit. A general release of the protocols will be included in a future PCC EHR update.
“We recognized there's a real dearth of good preemie protocols in the EHR world, and that pediatricians have had to develop their own,” said Chip Hart, PCC's director of Pediatric Solutions. “Now, PCC EHR practices don't have to develop preemie protocols from scratch.”
The preemie protocols in PCC EHR were built using components, such as Last Answer, that help the clinician quickly pull up a detailed summary of a premature infant's clinical history.
Pediatricians who use the EHR protocols can further facilitate the care of a premature infant by referring to the Preemie Toolkit's many other resources. The online tool, which can be accessed at www.preemietoolkit.com, was developed by an advisory committee of pediatric specialists and allied health professionals in collaboration with MedImmune and the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality (NICHQ). The medical advisory group had identified a clear need to fill the gap in the transition of premature infants from the inpatient to outpatient setting.
“Pediatricians primarily see full term babies and can feel intimidated in taking care of these infants who have often been under the care of a multidisciplinary team in a hospital,” said Dr. Veena Kumar, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at MedImmune. “The Toolkit was developed to complement the care that these physicians already provide. The goal is to help improve the care and outcomes of premature infants.”
The national preterm birth rate declined to 11.99 percent in 2010, the first time the preterm birth rate has dipped below 12 percent in recent years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Preterm birth costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine report. It is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive premature birth often suffer from complex medical problems that can last a lifetime.
Meanwhile, the Preemie Toolkit is already being revamped to a new and improved version, said Dr. Kumar. The site will also be optimized for viewing on mobile devices.