Pediatric Advisor - Evaluation

Author: Gregg A. Lichtenstein
Date: Oct, 1991

Pediatric Advisor provides health care professionals with a software program that rapidly and efficiently prints patient information materials. Accompanied by a clear and concise instruction manual, this program is easily installed and contains several help screens that can be easily accessed while the program is running.

The program contains more than 600 patient information handouts on medical, behavioral and parenting issues. Sections on pediatric health have been written by Barton Schmitt, M.D., of Children's Hospital of Denver, author of many medical articles and monographs, including Pediatric Telephone Advice and Your Child's Health. Some of the adolescent health information was authored by David Kaplan, M.D., M.P.H., head of adolescent medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, and newborn care and positive parenting sections have been written by two experts in these fields.

This computerized "Dr. Spock" allows physicians and their staffs to produce patient information handouts on a variety of subjects, which are well indexed and easily retrieved, with minimal keyboarding. A search, for example, of the index for the word "sleep" provides information on sleep problems, increased sleep, sleepwalking, other infant sleep concerns, nightmares, night terrors, a sleep diary and suggestions for preventing sleep problems, sometimes accompanied by reading lists for parents. Patient handouts can be customized to include the practice letterhead, and the content of the handouts can be easily modified to suit the physician's needs. The wide range of adult, pediatric and gynecologic information makes the system useful for individual physician's demographic practice profile.

The detailed information often includes instructions on self-care and outlines symptoms that require a physician's care. Although some of the material on child development reads too much like a textbook, a treasure trove of parenting materials is included, from reading and play activity information to selection of baby equipment and other infant care topics. Medical illustrations are included in the Macintosh version but not in the IBM version, due in part to printer requirements.

Determining who is responsible for printing handouts and when to print them is the main drawback to this type of program. The volume of topics included in this program prohibits physicians from easily retrieving the appropriate handout at the appropriate time. A check sheet in each examining room would probably need to be filled out by the physician to indicate what materials need to be printed for each patient. Unless a single computer is dedicated solely to printing these handouts, the practice's computer should be capable of multitasking to avoid tying up the system. (The program is capable of being installed on the Novell Network, allowing access by multiple users.)

This program provides patients with helpful, take-home advice and gives physicians a means of disseminating written information to their patients. Patient handouts also provide physicians with the secondary advantages of promoting the practice, helping discouraging potential malpractice claims (emergency rooms are starting to use similar forms signed in duplicate by the patient) and even diminishing the number of unnecessary patient phone calls. Although the initial expense of the Pediatric Advisor is relatively high, easy access to this vast storehouse of patient information in a single source may well be worth the price.

COPYRIGHT 1991 American Academy of Family PhysiciansCOPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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