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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
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Health Information Technology

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What is the vision for children's health and how can health IT help?

The HRSA Maternal and Child Health Bureau states their vision as:

A future America in which the right to grow to one's full potential is universally assured through attention to the comprehensive physical, psychological and social needs of the maternal and child health population. We strive for a society where children are wanted and born with optimal health, receive quality care and are nurtured lovingly and sensitively as they mature into healthy, productive adults. MCHB seeks a nation where there is equal access for all to quality health care in a supportive, culturally competent, family and community setting.

The 2004 Institute of Medicine report, Children's Health, the Nation's Wealth, defined children's health as follows:

Children's health should be defined as the extent to which individual children or groups of children are able or enabled to (a) develop and realize their potential, (b) satisfy their needs, and (c) develop the capacities to allow them to interact successfully with their biological, physical and social environment.

This definition was based on the characterization of health as the result of lifelong processes and interactions that influence long-term health trajectories. Children have been shown to be highly susceptible to negative and positive factors during critical developmental periods. Thus, in order to encourage a child's development into his/her healthy adult counterpart, health promoting and protecting factors during these periods should be maximized. It is in these processes that Health IT will be useful.  For example, health IT can improve physicians' access to children's health care, dental, school and other relevant records. This will permit physicians to address the child's entire history, rather than a single clinical event; encouraging recommendations and prescriptions targeted to the individual child.

Health IT will also empower families by providing them access to their children's care plans and other information needed to maximize the health of their children. Health IT can provide system integration on several levels, including private practice, public health agencies, schools, communities, and families.  This type of information flow can be utilized in several ways.  For example, it may be used to coordinate with schools in managing children with asthma; to track and assist children in foster care, or to coordinate care for children with special health care needs. 

Health IT targeted towards children will improve the efficacy of care for children, which may be particularly helpful in treating the growing of number of children with chronic health problems.  Health IT may help providers and families address these conditions at earlier stages or help prevent conditions and promote positive child health.  These improvements will provide a foundation for the development of a healthy adult, resulting in a long term reduction of health care costs as well.

Vision for Children's Health Resources:

How Health IT Can Facilitate the Improvement of Children's Health:

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