Using Health Information Technology (HIT) to Improve Early Screening and Connect Children to Community Services: The CHIPRA Quality Demonstration Grant in Pennsylvania

Statement of Problem

Despite clinical recommendations supporting screening for developmental and behavioral issues in primary care, there is limited understanding of the best ways to implement these practices using health information technology (HIT). In addition, screening must be supported by strong systems for electronic referral and feedback between primary care clinics and community-level service providers, such as Early Intervention and behavioral health.

Since 2010, PolicyLab, the Center for Biomedical Informatics, and the CHOP Care Network of primary care practices have been working with the state of Pennsylvania and the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to improve the quality of pediatric care using health information technology (HIT) through a variety of quality improvement projects. PolicyLab is providing technical assistance to Pennsylvania projects that are implementing electronic screening for developmental and behavioral concerns in primary care and working to improve referrals to Early Intervention and community behavioral health services. Since July 2011, families at CHOP have completed more than 150,000 standardized screening questionnaires for postpartum depression, developmental delay, autism, adolescent depression, and school-age behavioral concerns using tablet computers during primary care visits. Next steps include expanding the electronic screening and referral initiatives to additional sites in the coming years, and adding increasing numbers of tools to screen for behavioral problems in older children and adolescents.

This project builds upon our work demonstrating the importance of connecting children and families through the continuum of screening to referral for early intervention and behavioral health services. Results of this project are being shared locally and nationally to provide guidance to other health systems to improve their pathways for identifying and referring children and families to early intervention and behavioral health services. The team has also focused on identifying mechanism to finance these enhanced primary care services, working regionally and nationally to determine the financing mechanisms that will support their growth in primary care practices.

Suggested Citation

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Policy Lab. Using Health Information Technology (HIT) to Improve Early Screening and Connect Children to Community Services: The CHIPRA Quality Demonstration Grant in Pennsylvania [Online]. Available at: http://www.policylab.chop.edu [Accessed: plug in date accessed here].