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Information technology is changing health care in the United States in some profound and exciting ways. The challenge facing many communities, however, is to make sure low-income children, who are often in worse health and have a harder time getting health care, benefit from these advances rather than being left behind in an “electronic divide.”
Children’s Health Fund has been a leader, not just in bringing high-quality health care to low-income communities, but in bridging that divide for over 25 years. In 1987, before most doctors’ offices or hospitals had even installed desktop computers in their offices, our very first mobile clinic in New York City carried an electronic health record system onboard as it visited homeless family shelters.
Today, we continue to bring the latest technologies to children in low-income communities across the country. In South Florida, for example, where vulnerable children often lack transportation to a specialist, doctors on board our mobile clinic are using technology to let kids “see” dermatologists, cardiologists, etc. who sit miles away at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
In Dallas, Phoenix and San Francisco, young people who need reminders to take their medication or keep an appointment are receiving text messages to make sure they don’t forget. In Detroit, kids are using new electronic tools to help them manage their asthma. In almost all our programs, doctors, nurses and other professionals who need to consult with each other or share information are uploading lab results, x-rays and other notes into electronic health record systems so they can make better, quicker, fully-informed decisions.
In the past two years, many of these successes have been made possible through a partnership with Verizon Foundation, which is helping Children’s Health Fund adapt the newest health information technology to serve children in disadvantaged communities. In addition, Verizon is equipping our mobile clinics with hardware and software so each program, can easily communicate with its own medical affiliate, state immunization registry, and other resources to instantaneously share information.