Sebelius’ ACA Highlights Need a Dash of HIT Benefits for Parents

Posted on January 3, 2013 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

As a mother of young children, I have the pleasure of trying to squeeze in routine, pediatric dental appointments during Christmas and summer breaks. This time around, I had the added pleasure of taking my daughter to a new dentist – one within the same group she’s been going to for all of two years, but at a different location. Though I had her dental records transferred from the previous office, I still had to fill out a plethora of new patient forms upon arrival at the new location. Needless to say, the smile I gave the receptionist as she handed me a sheaf of papers asking me for redundant information was somewhat thin.

I passed the time flipping through the pages of a recent Parents magazine, and imagine my surprise when I came across an interview with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius regarding the Affordable Care Act and its implications for women and families. I thought it was a good idea on the part of Parents editors to have Sebelius explain – succinctly and briefly – the highlights of the ACA, especially pertaining to preventive services and the supposed affordability of health insurance once health insurance exchanges get up and running in 2014.

Being that I had just wasted 15 minutes of time filling out duplicate paper forms, I felt that a sidebar on the benefits of healthcare IT might also help out harried mothers like myself. Bullet points would include:

* Do your mental health a favor and avoid filling out paper forms in waiting rooms while your children “entertain” others with their shenanigans/arguments. Do business only with “digital” docs – those who utilize electronic medical records, enable sign-in via the Web before you arrive at the office, and are willing to communicate via email. Those that offer telemedicine services (provided your insurance will cooperate) are an added bonus if your family lives somewhat off the beaten healthcare path.

* Healthcare will become more affordable once consumers start making an effort to patronize providers that have a reputation for high patient satisfaction and quality scores. Get engaged via websites like Healthgrades.com to start sifting through local MDs’ scores and reviews.

* Assuming you’re a connected parent – one that routinely uses a smartphone and/or tablet, ask your healthcare provider about apps specific to any wellness or illness issues your children may be experiencing. I certainly wouldn’t mind switching out my children’s Toca Boca screen time with educational health games and stories.

These were just a few of the items running through my mind when my daughter’s dental hygienist asked if she had x-rays last time around, adding that those hadn’t come over yet from the other office, and the process of looking them up was overly complicated.

As Seth Meyers says on SNL, “Really?!”