Health observances are key ways to educate and spread awareness to the public about important factors in their families’ healthcare. For pediatricians, monthly health observances are also a great way to take part in awareness, while presenting an opportunity to review the services and resources your practice has to offer. Let’s take a look at immunizations, breastfeeding, and pediatric eye health, great opportunities for practices to review late summer.
Immunizations: Clinics, Registries, and More
August is a great month for preparation -- the kids for school, and your practice for flu season. There’s also no time like the present to review your immunization registry to make sure your patients are on track, or if they aren’t, that they’re soon to be on the schedule to arrive for their immunizations.
Immunizations become more important than ever in the wake of a pandemic, as many patients may have their vaccination schedules interrupted or delayed. Flu vaccines are also critical to prevent burden on local hospitals should there be a second wave of infection.
Pediatricians considering immunizations this month should take safety, sanitizations, and distancing measures such as those recommended by the CDC into account when planning for clinics. For other immunizations, a divide-and-conquer approach may be useful, for example addressing newborn to 2-year-olds at the practice overdue for vaccines before moving on to school-age children.
Immunization Registry & Practice Well Check
Before you order your flu vaccines, take some time to make sure your state registry agrees with your own immunization data. Are any lot numbers mislabeled or missing? You can check for accuracies by taking a random lot or vaccine number and comparing it with the state’s data.
If your records show incorrect data, or records show that vaccine errors such as incorrect dose, incorrect vaccine, wrong route, or wrong patient, consider the solutions your practice could address this year, from retraining staff to investing in 2D barcode scanners for vaccines.
Don’t forget to promote vaccines in the office! It’s a great way to begin conversations based on trust and communication with vaccine-hesitant families or families of patients who are behind on their schedules. The CDC has a set of promotional materials you can use from the The National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). You may also like the #HowIRecommend video series from the CDC which guides physicians on various vaccinations, as well as this flip chart for adolescent vaccinations from the AAP.
Bringing Breastfeeding Support to Your Practice
Supporting breastfeeding in your practice is a simple but important step for families to feel both welcome, safe, and supported in their choice of breastfeeding. To become a breastfeeding-friendly practice, provide resources for frequently asked questions, support and encourage breastfeeding at your practice, and advertise services and support online and off with announcements, posters, social media support, and more.
The AAP’s policy on breastfeeding reflects the benefits extended to an infant by the practice, which is both a medical and lifestyle choice for parents. The current recommendation is that parents who are able to provide exclusive breastfeeding for a newborn until about 6 months and up to a year or more as desired by mother and infant. The resources and support your practice offers can guide your infant patients and their mothers through this important period of a child’s life.
Lactation Consultants in Pediatric Practice
Susanne Madden, CEO and founder of The Verden Group wrote in PCC’s publication The Independent Pediatrician to provide readers with excellent advice on adding lactation services to your practice’s roster:
- Obtain further training for lactation consultancy; you may choose to become certified by an entity such as the IBCLE (International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners). Clinicians can take their Pathway 1 course to certification.
- Hire a qualified lactation consultant to provide care by visit or per hour, or build a relationship where you refer your patients to them.
- “Source” a lactation consultant from your team; a credentialed RN or NP can perform lactation services, billing for mom or baby depending on the service rendered.
Before considering lactation services, it’s a good idea to examine just how many of your patients are newborns or infants of an age for breastfeeding. This will help you examine the best and the most cost-effective choice for your practice. PCC clients can easily find this information by searching demographic information or searching by visit type.
Have more questions about breastfeeding in general? Check out the AAP’s resources on the subject, which include how to bill for breastfeeding visits and sample marketing materials.
Children’s Eye Health & Safety Month
This national health observance is a perfect opportunity to review the way your practice supports kids’ eye health. It’s also a great time to share how vision and eyesight works with kids, with resources such as this one from the National Eye Institute.
Let’s review the basics of eye care according to the AAP: at each well-visit, a child’s eyes should be checked separately for abnormalities such as alignment, reactivity to light, and vision. Warning signs to look out for include reports of trouble seeing near or distant objects, sensitivity to light, inward crossing or outward drifting of one or both eyes after 4 months, or retinal hemorrhages, which are normal after vaginal delivery but could be an indicator of severe abuse.
If your practice is finding vision exams lengthy, stressful, or you doubt their accuracy, it may be time to review the tools you’re using. Modern recommendations for vision tests include both photoscreening and visual acuity tests to search for any abnormalities, which would be referred to a pediatrician optometrist or optician.
Photoscreening & Vision Tests
Vision loss or eye problems such as amblyopia, a leading cause of vision loss, can be treated if caught early, and can help save a child’s vision for life. Photoscreening helps your practice find risk factors in kids who can’t verbalize or read, while visual acuity tests work for older children.
Since the AAP recommends photoscreening tests as early as 12 months and visual acuity attempts by age 4, your practice and your patients will benefit from the right tools and technology to perform accurate, early vision screenings. One such solution is GoCheckKids, a vision screening program that provides your practice with both photoscreening and visual acuity options for your patients.
Here’s how it works -- GoCheckKids provides your office with an iPhone. The clinician snaps a photo of the child during the well visit, and the included app reviews the photo for abnormalities and recommends a referral if necessary. On the same iPhone, a visual acuity test is performed during the well visit.
Another option for pediatricians is the Spot Vision Screener by Welch Allyn. The scanner has lights and sounds to help kids through the screening process, and the device is Wi-Fi enabled so that the data can be exported easily.
National health observances like the one for August are a chance for your practice to share knowledge and resources with your patients, but they’re also great reminders to check your practice’s workflows, tools, and resources and make sure they’re up to speed. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of your practice, especially if you’re a managing partner. Checks like these are great ways to see what else is out there, and what technology, workflows, or habits other practices find useful for the challenges every pediatrician faces. Don’t believe us? Check out this webinar by PCC’s Director of Pediatric Solutions, Chip Hart, as he outlines the ways pediatricians can grow and evolve, simply by walking out their practice door.