EMRs Coming to a School Near You

Posted on July 5, 2012 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 I mentioned in a previous post, my family and I are experiencing one of our busiest summers ever. With our decision to become landlords comes a simultaneous decision to move to a new area, for the usual reasons. We’ve found ourselves in love with a house in an entirely different county, and thus a new school system.

Now I don’t know about you, but summers seem to be getting shorter and shorter when it comes to the school calendar. Weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day seemed to stretch on endlessly. But now we’re lucky to get a full eight weeks of summertime fun. Needless to say, we’ve got just about four weeks to get into our new home before the school year starts.

I’ll be registering our oldest daughter soon after the 4th of July break, and on my list of questions will be “Is there a school nurse on campus at all times?” After reading a recent article at LeHighValleyLive.com, I may just have to add, “Does the school participate in exchange of electronic medical records with local healthcare facilities?”

The article relates that Pennsylvania’s Bethlehem area school district’s board has approved “joining a regional partnership that would make the electronic medical records of Bethlehem and Allentown School District readily available to emergency room doctors and nurses alike.”

The Children’s Care Alliance is a partnership between the school districts and four hospital/healthcare systems. You can read the article linked to above for most of the details.

I’d also be interested to learn how they are going to go about choosing an EMR vendor. Will it be a strictly pediatric solution? It would be interesting to see an EMR created from scratch for the sole purpose of serving students in public school populations. Barring any HIPAA-related concerns, the opportunity for population health management research at this level would be enormous.

Being in the marketing business, I’d also be interested to know how they are going to get students and their parents to opt in to the program, and what sort of choices students will be left with if they opt out. Will they partner with local pediatricians to create support on that end? It seems like a great teaching tool with which to start creating a younger, more engaged patient base. Wouldn’t it be cool to have the school nurse come in to health class one day to explain the benefits of an EMR, and how students can access it or a corresponding, school-sponsored personal health record from the computer at their desk, or their iPads at home?

I do wonder, though, just how easily this alliance could be created in other communities. The price tag of $2.3 million seems high.

Perhaps I’ll ask that very question when I head to the school registration offices next week.