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

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What types of health IT tools are available to families and children?

There are certain health IT tools that can be accessed by families to play a more active role in children's health care.  Tools such as personal health records (PHRs) and patient portals, in particular, allow families and patients to play a more active role.  The American Academy of Pediatrics 2009 Supplement on PHRs go to exit disclaimer highlights some of the features that incorporate and encourage more involved family participation including laboratory and test results, secure messaging between providers and families, entry of health information by family members, and links to Web-sites providing additional health education information.  Patient portals can also allow families to interact with providers online to conduct tasks such as scheduling appointments, requesting prescription refills, and communicating with physicians.  Not only do these health IT tools provide patients, families, and providers with a more comprehensive view of the patient's health and health care, but they also add convenience and efficiency to the lives of families and patients.  There are, however, barriers to accessing health IT tools that many patients and families face.  Some of these barriers include a lack of access to the Internet or computers, limited computer skills, and lack of access to consumer-facing health IT applications.

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