Leveraging Social Insights and Healthcare Data Integration in Pediatrics

Abhinav Shashank
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Spending 10 months in a polluted city, shifting to a home-cooked meal from packaged food, substance abuse, an increase in screen time, passive smoking, switching to a high-calorie diet everything has an impact on your health. But, does your care plan address them? 

Changes in lifestyle and environment become more critical for children with diverse health needs and physical regimes.

Pediatrics has a perfectly tailored audience, with very specific care needs. A continuously growing population is bound to have a significant dependence on the surroundings and environment of growth. This dependence needs to be quantified and made a part of healthcare data integration and pediatric care plans. Children have unique exposure to environmental hazards and dynamic developmental physiology that makes them altogether more susceptible to various health issues. These issues can be addressed if we can bring this data at a healthcare data integration platform. 

What makes it a unique concern?

According to a survey, bullying, internet safety, child abuse and neglect, stress, and not enough opportunities for physical activities are 5 of the top 10 health concerns of parents in the US. 

Besides, various diseases specifically impact children below a certain age. Young children, specifically, need comprehensive care services in line with their hearing, speech, vision, nutrition, and behavioral needs. 

Our present system for pediatric care hasn’t wholly explored the dimension of social determinants of health in childcare. It remains a distant dream to customize care plans for children that align with their environmental and social conditions. 

Framework for improving pediatric care delivery

The WHO defines pediatric populations under four broad categories:

  • Newborns: 1 to 28 days
  • Infants: Up to 12 months
  • Children: From 1 to 10 years
  • Adolescents: From 10 to 19 years

The treatment procedures and medical needs of each of these four categories vary considerably. The mental and physical health of children is also dependent on the financial and social status of their parents or guardians, their schools, and early identification of long-term health symptoms. For instance, obesity in children is directly related to parent stressors, and one of its vital behavioral indicators is child fast food consumption.

Healthcare organizations should try to maintain the entire patient data at a single place irrespective of their size, location, or specialty with the help of a healthcare data integration platform. Given that children receive care at various places, it is essential to pull data from multiple platforms to get a better, 360-degree view of the entire health-cycle of children. 

Catering to the specific needs of their patient populations

For children, health is more than just the lack of illness and more about the culture of wellness. They need schools, playgrounds, and proper nutrition to grow up as healthy individuals. Further, they may receive care at different places such as schools, daycare facilities, homes, et al. Based on clinical and non-clinical factors impacting their health, organizations need to derive ways to meet specific challenges of children coming from various walks of life. Simultaneously, it is needful that we track the quality of care that is delivered to each child at each facility within the parent organization.

Enabling futuristic risk stratification and care management strategies

The biggest challenge of pediatric care is managing the end-to-end needs of young patients. A high-functioning care management strategy should take into account both clinical and socioeconomic factors, something that can go a long way in improving population health. For instance, though we know that the caloric needs of children are different than adults, it all comes down to ensuring that each child eats appropriately every day. Devising care plans that understand food insecurity or contamination in a given region is achievable by deploying a patient-feedback system that loops in families in the case of children. Children’s guardians, care teams, and community should collectively work with these social capabilities 365 days a year. 

The Road Ahead

Continuous efforts by the federal and private organizations over two decades have brought pediatrics care to a more adaptable and progressing stage. Identifying the issues faced by pediatricians, their care teams, and patients, and determining what socioeconomic factors contribute to those issues, should be our next steps. 

With these approaches, pediatrics will be able to achieve significant milestones to optimize cost and care outcomes at each facility across the US. Surely, this will strengthen the backbone of a healthier tomorrow!

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