I recently had the good fortune to present a forum on medical office technologies (“Must-Have Gadgets, Gizmos, and Technology for the Pediatric Office”) at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in beautiful San Diego. Given at the request of the AAP’s Section on Advances in Technology and Therapeutics, several pediatrician colleagues and I did a “show and tell” on a wide spectrum of gadgets and gizmos to a receptive audience of 80 pediatricians.
The room was at capacity, and unfortunately we could not accommodate all the pediatricians who wanted to attend. Even a reporter from Contemporary Pediatrics had to be physically removed when she attempted to “crash” the session. Although I have been writing about office tech since the world was young, I have rarely had the opportunity to answer questions and receive feedback directly from pediatricians. Let’s take a look at what devices the pediatricians favored and review some of the hot topics discussed at the forum.
Advantages (and disadvantages) of being “high tech”
I began the presentation with a brief overview of how integrating office technology can improve pediatric practice. Pediatricians have limited time and much to do at any health supervision or ill visit. Our gadgets can improve patient care by expediting our screens, providing accurate office-based diagnostic tests, and providing new treatment options.
There may be a few disadvantages to the “high-tech office.” First, our technology is often expensive, and we need to be able to determine if the technology is a worthwhile investment and to have the cash reserves sufficient to purchase a new device. Once acquired, we also need to learn when not to “trust” the information our technology provides us. Often this means validating the technology by comparing results to those produced by our previous “low-tech” tests. Some devices may not be appropriate for our patient population (in-office lead tests, for example), or may complicate existing workflow (otoacoustic emissions [OAE] hearing screeners and photoscreeners).
Screening pediatric patients
A recent article in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicated that pediatricians could be doing a better job at screening children for preventable diseases.1 According to the article:
- Approximately 50% of infants who failed their newborn hearing screening did not have follow-up testing.
- Approximately 80% of children aged 10 to 47 months did not have a formal screen for developmental delays.
- Two-thirds (67%) of children who met criteria for screening at 1 and 2 years of age were not tested for lead poisoning.
- Approximately 1 in 5 (22%) children aged 5 years never had his/her vision checked by a doctor or other healthcare provider.
- Approximately 1 in 4 (24%) clinic visits for preventive care made by 3- to 17-year-olds had no documentation of blood pressure measurements.