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December 4, 2002


Roster Management System Proven Successful With Increasing Patient Retention at Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital

A new computerized system designed to track and manage all children enrolled in the Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital's Pediatric Primary Care Clinic has yielded successful results, according to Terri McFadden, M.D., a pediatrician at Hughes Spalding and assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. McFadden helped develop the system. Since January 2002, the Roster Management system has resulted in a 27 percent increase in clinic visits and overall patient retention rate. The system, established through a partnership with Advantage Computer Age, Inc. (ACAI), an Atlanta-based computer consulting company, took just over two years to fully implement.

The purpose of the system is to manage patient visit history, make contact with patients to encourage appropriate visits, and to evaluate compliance with health supervision programs such as the State of Georgia's Health Check program. Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital provides medical care for children within the Grady Health System. And while many health systems mail appointment reminder cards to patients, this is one of the first systems that prompts parents to make appointments with their child's pediatrician. Without reminder cards, many parents may forget to bring their children in for critical medical appointments.

"In the first two years of life, children are supposed to have nine visits for well care. Keeping up with this schedule can be a challenge for busy parents," Dr. McFadden said. "This system takes some of the burden off parents for remembering well-child appointments. Specifically, our goal is to get children settled into a medical home and for them to get the care they're supposed to receive." Plans for the Roster Management system began in 1998 because of the need to access patients' information quickly and easily for establishing essential contacts for health check reminders. Managed care also made it particularly critical for staff to have the ability to access patients' information as quickly as possible.

In response to Hughes Spalding's need, ACAI established a method and system for importing CD-based Medicaid and Peach Care for Kids insurance data into a database system that can be carefully managed by health care staff. The software, in turn, outputs health-check screening lists to notify parents when necessary and regular health checks are due for their infants and children. Postcard reminders are then generated and mailed to parents.

The system also allows for information to be separated according to patients' zip codes, age, birth date, insurance, as well as for specific medical intervention such as asthma checkups or flu vaccines. It also allows tracking of patient numbers, specific diagnoses, and peak times when children are most likely to become sick or need to visit their pediatrician, such as in the spring, or in the fall when children are heading back to school.

"This system represents our company's consultative approach to service delivery to the highest degree," said Laura Zekoll, president of ACAI. "We worked hard with the Hughes Spalding staff to get the program where it is today, and as a team, we created a solution that saves time and money, and helps improve children's lives."

Overall, Dr. McFadden said the computerized system has helped assess immunizations and provide other appropriate interventions necessary for children's development.

"When your practice has over 10,000 patients enrolled you need a computerized system to effectively manage care," Dr. McFadden said. "This system is one of the best ways to do that," she said.

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