Computer-Assisted Tools Alert Pediatricians to Obese Patients

First Large Study to Evaluate Impact of EHR on Childhood Obesity Evaluation

By Kaiser Permanente – The Sacramento Bee, Published: Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 – 8:25 am

PASADENA, Calif., Feb. 21, 2012 —

PASADENA, Calif., Feb. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Electronic health records and embedded tools can alert and direct pediatricians so they can better manage the weight of children and teenagers, according to a new Kaiser Permanente study published online in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Researchers analyzed visits for nearly 740,000 children and adolescents ages 2 to 17 to evaluate the impact of computer-assisted decision tools and found that extracting information from the electronic health record substantially improves the identification and diagnosis of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents, and also facilitated exercise and nutrition counseling.

“By using electronic medical record tools we can diagnose and address obesity-related issues at a population level rather than just among a few families. These are great tools that could be implemented by physicians in a variety of clinical settings to better diagnose and manage obesity among children and adolescents,” said study lead author Karen Coleman, PhD, from Kaiser Permanente’s Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation.

The prevalence of obesity has increased sharply in children and adolescents in the last 30 years, with at least 18 percent of 12- to 19-year-olds now considered obese. To address this dramatic increase, the American Academy of Pediatrics Expert Committee guidelines recommended standardized approaches to the identification and treatment of overweight and obese children and adolescents as well as prevention of overweight and obesity among an at-risk population in clinical settings. To date, these guidelines have been inconsistently or poorly implemented. Read More