Stories about: medical homes

Redesigning behavioral health care: The time is now

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Richard Antonelli, MD, is a primary care pediatrician and medical director of Integrated Care and Physician Relations and Outreach at Boston Children’s Hospital.  He also co-chairs the Task Force on Care Coordination for Children with Behavioral Health Needs, a group within the Massachusetts Child Health Quality Coalition. Laura Chandhok, MPH, Physician Partnership Liaison at Boston Children’s Hospital, contributed to this post.

The recent shootings in Newtown, Conn., have revived the long-standing debate about gun control in the United States and rightly put a spotlight on media and video-game violence. Importantly, this tragic event has also raised questions about the adequacy of our nation’s behavioral health system and whether troubled children, adolescents and their families have access to needed diagnostic and management services.

These questions aren’t new. And as care delivery models evolve in response to the demands for better care at lower costs, we have an opportunity to improve our behavioral health services.

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Children with medical complexity: Caught in a political and economic crossfire

What will happen to medically complex children if insurance coverage is reduced and fewer pediatricians are trained to care for them? (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Jay Berry, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician and hospitalist in the Complex Care Service at Boston Children’s Hospital. His most recent research appears in the JAMA Pediatrics, accompanied by editorials on the findings’ implications for health care and residency training. Berry further discusses its implications in this podcast.

My first encounter with a children’s hospital was as a first grader in 1980, when my 5-year-old cousin was diagnosed with cancer. Although her family was challenged to afford her cancer treatments, St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis welcomed her and treated her cancer into remission. I remember my parents saying, “Everybody in that hospital loves children. No child is turned away.”

In 1997, walking into the Children’s Hospital of Alabama as a medical student, I felt the same sense of hope and courage. Everyone on the staff believed that they could make a difference in the lives of the children and families, despite the horrific illnesses that many of the children endured. I knew, immediately, that I wanted to become a pediatrician and to learn how to care for sick children.

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More sick children are surviving. Are they ready for adult medicine?

(image: Sandyhombre/Flickr)

In the past few decades, what used to be considered medical miracles have become expected and everyday. More children are surviving prematurity, even extreme prematurity. Congenital heart defects are routinely repaired, leukemia has largely become curable, and conditions like sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis have become manageable chronic conditions with a greatly increased life expectancy.

That’s created a new problem: young adults entering an adult healthcare system that isn’t ready for them. Many have cognitive disabilities or emerging coexisting conditions like obesity, asthma and type 2 diabetes. Many are used to having their care managed by their parents.

A national study of patients aged 19 to 23 with special health care needs – the first to draw on interviews of young adults themselves – finds many of them ill-prepared to assume lifelong responsibility for their health

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Turning medicine inside out: It’s all about the data

(Mike Deal aka ZoneDancer/Flickr)

From the ashes of the demise of Google Health may yet rise a health care information system that really works — for doctors and patients alike. And let’s not forget caregivers – those responsible for the health of their children or aging parents. They need all the help they can get.

Interviewed last week for CommonHealth, WBUR.org’s health blog, Ken Mandl of the Children’s Hospital Informatics Program (CHIP) argues that Google’s effort fell short on a key ingredient: data. Mandl co-founded Children’s Hospital Boston’s open-source patient-controlled record, Indivo, and wants to see a world where medical data flows unfettered – brings real value. Here’s how he put it to CommonHealth:

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Using health-records technology to bring value

The shelves that used to hold Children's Hospital Boston's paper medical records now stand empty.

What does paperlessness mean? It’s about helping patients, says Daniel Nigrin, Chief Information Officer at Children’s Hospital Boston. This approach helps explain why he was named one of the InformationWeek Healthcare 25, a short list of leaders driving the healthcare IT revolution.

“The integration of a patient’s data has to be one of the topmost national priorities,” Nigrin says. “It will eventually lead to better care, and hopefully a reduction in cost.”

This need is becoming critical as healthcare reform rolls out and primary-care practices become patients’ medical homes, integrating information from

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