Saturday, May 26, 2012

Your Child's Health Records: Why It's So Important


It may sound dramatic, but keeping your child's medical records up-to-date and complete could save her life. There are machines that tell you just about anything you need to know about the human body. When it comes to making an accurate diagnosis, however, medical professionals often need more than what they detect from a medical checkup. Your doctor has no way of knowing that your grandmother on your father's side is diabetic or that your mother's side of the family has a history of heart disease. This is why it is more important than ever to keep accurate medical records, especially for your children.

Use Record Keeping to Monitor Your Child

If you're like most parents, your first record for your child is probably their immunization record. If your child is born with a birth defect or medical condition, you'll need to keep even more re-cords. If, for example, your child has seizures, you may be asked to keep a video diary to document each attack. It's no longer just enough to write down stuff here and there. Records need to be as accurate as possible. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is among organizations developing techniques to streamline the record keeping process. One method of record keeping involves multiple cameras and related software to observe a child's behavior. The data collected can be easily stored in a central database and retrieved by those who need access to that information.

Sharing Information to Get Quicker Treatment for your Child

Tools like PDAs and digitizing pens take the burden of accurate record keeping away from parents by collecting data in a more useful form. The ultimate goal is to share information easier. If your child has conditions such as autism or cancer, they are likely to seen by more than one doc-tor. Collecting information about your child that can be easily retrieved makes it easier to keep treatments on the same page. This also makes prescribing medicine easier and eliminates the need for repeated testing if information is lost or not available. Platforms such as Personal Health Records make it easier to share information with educators and researchers, allowing access to real-time data.

Long-term Research and What this Means to Your Child

The benefits of long-term research and data collection have been known for years. It's a painstaking process that used to rely strictly on various records kept by different doctors, hospitals, clinics and labs. It wasn't unusual for one facility to have a completely different record keeping method than another one. This made the process of sorting through data very time-consuming. Thanks to efforts to combine databases and develop standards for keeping records, access to re-search is becoming less chaotic. Better health records along with improved storage and sharing methods can make it easier to determine which medical treatments are more likely to be effective and which ones aren't. It's also a good way to study the long-term effects of certain medications and observe a pattern that can result in improved drugs and better treatment options.

Technology is making it much easier to track your child's medical history. That, along with recent government requirements to digitize all health records, are helping to create a cohesive network of data that be accessed by doctors, pharmacists and researchers. Maybe someday your children's children won't have to suffer from many of the common ailments and afflictions that plague our children today. And to think, it all started because of something as simple as keeping an accurate record of your child's health.

Charlotte Reeves is a blogger for several medical Web Sites. Charlotte guest writes for this site where you can find out about a health information management degree online .

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