Health Promotion

A Step Closer to Health and Well-being Transformation: Pediatrics Supporting Parents

By: Scott Orsey

Three years ago, I wondered how close we were to the technological convergence that would radically transform the approach we take to health and well-being. At the time, in the article Are We Asking the Wrong Questions About Investing in Child Health?, I observed the high rate at which we were gaining knowledge of and the ability to influence our health determinants. I considered technologies in the four health determinant domains – genetics, environment, behavior and health care delivery – and concluded that convergence was nigh and transformation imminent.  Now I’m excited to report back that, in at least in the health care domain, we are knocking at the door through an initiative called Pediatrics Supporting Parents.

Pediatrics Supporting Parents is envisioned as an opportunity to truly transform pediatric health care delivery to improve school readiness and strengthen overall well-being for children and families.  A group of national foundations is funding the initiative in the hopes of revolutionizing pediatric health care as we know it.

An Overview of Pediatrics Supporting Parents

In order to enhance school readiness, the Pediatrics Supporting Parents initiative focuses on improving social and emotional development for children ages 0 to 3 while also strengthening parent-child relationships. Research tells us that social and emotional development is an early indicator of school readiness and is primarily driven by parent-child relationships.

So, here’s how it’s designed to work: The initiative partners with primary care providers and families to ensure a much stronger focus on social and emotional development during pediatric well-child visits. Currently, providers address health and development during such visits but don’t spend as much time promoting social and emotional development due to a long list of barriers that too often stand in the way. Such barriers include limited time, insufficient provider reimbursement, incompatible electronic medical records, additional technology inefficiencies, a lack of measures to assess progress, and insufficient training for providers. Through the work of five teams around the country, Pediatrics Supporting Parents will develop solutions to these barriers to pave the way for a stronger social and emotional focus during well-child visits going forward.

The five teams are working on the following:

  • Enhancing reimbursements from Medicaid/Child Health Improvement Plan
  • Developing measurement, promotion and action network planning
  • Building and testing an integrated technology platform with capacity to interface with electronic medical records
  • Fostering community engagement and capacity building
  • Establishing an early relational health coordinating hub

Our Role in Pediatrics Supporting Parents

For our part in Pediatrics Supporting Parents, the Help Me Grow (HMG) National Center, with support from Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health, is leading the work to integrate various existing developmental and social/emotional screening tools into a single technology platform that then enhances the provider/parent discussion and facilitates linkage to appropriate health care and community based resources. If successful, this integrated platform will greatly simplify the developmental screening process for physicians and other family-serving providers while also making it possible for them to focus on social and emotional well-being. In addition, the platform would make it easy for parents to understand developmental milestones and identify concerns they have before their appointments, which will enable them to have productive discussions with providers and get their concerns addressed through timely referrals and linkage to community-based programs. 

After spending months developing the integrated platform, the HMG National Center solicited interest among affiliates in the HMG National Affiliate Network and selected a HMG affiliate, Help Me Grow San Francisco, to partner with in. Together, they are now pilot testing the platform at pediatric practices in that state.

Pediatrics Supporting Parents Going Forward

Once all five teams finish their work in developing their parts of the overall project, the foundations that are funding the work plan to select proof sites around the country to test all of the components together. At that point, they will be able to determine if the entire Pediatrics Supporting Parents initiative is feasible to bring to scale and incorporate in pediatric practices around the country. More importantly, they will be able to assess whether it is successful in addressing the social and emotional needs of young children more efficiently and effectively, while also enhancing school readiness and setting them up to thrive.

The speed with which these advancements occur foretells a time when services within the healthcare sector are seamlessly integrated with those based within the community – a critical milestone to the technological convergence I dreamed of just a few years ago.  Buckle up, this is going to be one amazing ride.

Scott Orsey is the associate director of operations, business strategy and institutional engagement for Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health.

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