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IU School of Medicine Launches Startup to Commercialize Pediatric Care Software

February 6, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Two senior leaders of the Indiana University School of Medicine have launched a startup to commercialize software targeting improvement in pediatric patient care.

Stephen Downs, M.D., president, and Tammy Dugan, chief technology officer, founded Digital Health Solutions LLC. The company's first software product is CHICA, or Child Health Improvement through Computer Automation. Dugan said the mission behind starting Digital Health Solutions was to make the software available beyond Indianapolis to improve the quality of care of children nationwide.

The news release announcement from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis noted that by themselves, electronic health records, (EHRs) “have failed to achieve” improvements in quality, cost cutting, and patient satisfaction. “Software that adds functionality to EHRs can assess patient risks, help physicians identify problems earlier and better document care quality. The result is earlier detection and treatment of problems and better health outcomes for children,” the release stated.

"It's a population that doesn't get as much attention because of the reimbursement structures in hospitals," Dugan said in a statement. "CHICA has been in use at Eskenazi Hospital clinics for over a dozen years for more than 50,000 visits," she said.

Downs noted that healthcare providers, including pediatricians, struggle with managing the thousands of primary care guidelines and recommendations for each patient visit. “CHICA addresses this challenge by screening families in the waiting room," he explained. "Families receive an electronic tablet upon arrival that asks 20 questions. Based on the family's responses, the software uses its prioritization process to select the most important issues for the physician to address during the visit. The family can provide information on a wide range of topics, including general preventive counseling, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, domestic violence, iron deficiency, lead exposure, maternal depression, tuberculosis and more. It also allows physicians to alert patients to problems that may otherwise be overlooked."

"The integration is intuitive and requires little provider training," Dugan said. "When doctors access a patient's EHR, an embedded link allows them to visit CHICA. Once the doctors have checked all the boxes, indicating how they responded to the alerts, the information is submitted as a block of text to EHR software that can then be incorporated into the provider's note, thereby streamlining clinical documentation."

"The underlying technology for CHICA can also be adapted for adult or specialty care areas," Downs said. "We are currently working to develop a new module for gastrointestinal specialists."

What’s more the solution has other potential benefits for providers of healthcare as well. “Payers of healthcare are looking for ways for providers to demonstrate superior-quality care," Downs said. "The system captures data that improves and demonstrates the quality of care, which could be used to improve reimbursement. It also collects patient-reported information that can't be captured any other way. My colleagues and I have conducted a number of research studies using the data.”

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