Back to School with Electronic Health Records

September 15, 2015 Marlene Chotkowski

As summer dwindles down and comes to an end, there are back-to-school health forms everywhere.  Physical forms, immunizations, emergency contact information, consent forms, allergy action plans, and medications are flooding the health center from every angle—in the mail, in kids’ backpacks, and dropped off in the office by parents.  Meanwhile your email inbox is constantly full, and the fax machine is running out of paper!  How do you keep track of all these forms and update students’ health charts quickly so that everything can be found when and where it is needed?

More than ever, school nurses are inundated with an endless amount of forms, notes, prescriptions, instructions, and plans.  And as the number of students with allergies and receiving medications at school increases, stakes are high.  Lost forms can put a school and its students at risk.  Organization is the key to ensuring that students are safe in class, at school, on campus, and during after-school sports and activities.  It may be easy to manage a student’s health needs when they are in the classroom and just a short walk away from the nurse’s office, but what about when a student athlete has an emergency at an away game at another school?

Johnny is in the 7th grade, and he’s excited to be playing for the school soccer team. He suffers from mild asthma, but his doctor cleared him to play in his pre-season physical, and his health forms are up-to-date. On a fall day, as he is getting ready for his first scrimmage, Johnny starts having trouble breathing.  At first he ignores the symptoms, thinking he is just tired and a little out of shape.  The game starts, and Johnny crouches to the ground, grabbing his chest and gasping for air.  His coach runs over and immediately seeks medical help. With an electronic student health record (EHR), the coach can quickly and easily pull up information on how to help his player. He can retrieve the asthma action plan, get Johnny his inhaler, and get him feeling better, faster, even before consulting with the athletic trainer, or school nurse.

With an EHR, you can easily track medical concerns at any time. Whether in the classroom, cafeteria, or playground, or on the sports field or a school trip, an EHR puts the most important information about your students’ health needs right at your fingertips.  In addition to making action plans and emergency contacts available, when student data is stored in an electronic system, it is easy to pull summary reports about a group of students. For example, it is easy to see who takes a certain medication, who has asthma, who has a cardiac condition, or who requires an Epi-pen. An EHR can also help the school proactively communicate with parents and faculty when a situation arises.

There are several student-based EHRs on the market.  If your school is searching for a solution, here are some things you may want to look for:

  • communication capabilities for emailing parents, providers, and school personnel
  • a parent portal where parents can easily submit and update information
  • alerts and reports for overdue information such as health forms, physicals, missed medications, and overdue immunizations
  • ability to integrate and share information with your school’s SIS.

Keeping kids safe and healthy is an important job.  When information is flooding in, an EHR can help you manage the load, so you are free to focus on providing care to the students who need it.

***Note: Magnus Health is a Blackbaud Ecosystem partner with over 206 schools exchanging information between the two solutions.

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