Innovations and Inspirations for Improving Children’s Health: June 2016

Posted June 21, 2016 by Josh Grant

Doctor Talking To Mom And Daughter
Innovative and inspirational programs are helping close gaps in care for children and parents. 

Across the United States, organizations and government agencies are creating new approaches to improve children’s health. Because we support innovation for helping children lead healthier lives, we’ve highlighted some of the most exciting initiatives we’ve seen in the last few weeks. Read on to learn how some groups are addressing critical health needs:

Hospitals Seek to Improve Children’s Sleep
Some hospitals are working to improve the quality of sleep for children during overnight stays. Part of this movement has been motivated by evidence that shows that sleep can help improve health outcomes. For instance, children who receive enough sleep in intensive care units won’t need sedatives, which can pose risks for young patients. 

Through small changes, hospitals are creating a more comfortable sleep environment. For instance, in the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore blinds are lowered from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. and alerts are sent to nurses’ phones instead of playing loudly from each room. In other hospitals, modifying treatment procedures, such as combing blood draws and medication doses, reduces overnight disturbances. 

City Promotes Apps to Help Parents
In Nevada, Carson City Health and Human Services is promoting two apps—Text4baby and Pacify—to help new parents access support and education. Text4baby provides tri-weekly tips and reminders about children’s health during pregnancy and through a child’s first birthday. Pacify links parents to healthcare providers like nurses and lactation consultations at any time. 

More and more, smartphones are being used to support maternal and child health. Because the devices are so reliably with parents, it’s easy to turn them into tools for childcare. As government agencies and other organizers promote helpful apps and services, more families may be able to learn or answer their parenting questions with a couple of taps.   

Texas Providers Go to School
Doctors and nurse practitioners from Children’s Health in Dallas are treating children in Texas schools via telemedicine. Students in participating schools go to the school nurse’s office, where they are seen by a healthcare provider via a telemedicine cart. Some issues like allergies and upper respiratory infections are addressed in about 30 minutes and students are then allowed to go back to class.

In rural and urban Texas, children don’t always receive immediate treatment when they’re sick in school, either because of geographic proximity to a healthcare provider or parents being unable to miss work to go to a doctor. More schools and other hospitals are eager to participate, which could further help reduce gaps in care for underserved children. 

Wisconsin Program Provides Dental Services
Wisconsin’s Seal-A-Smile program has allowed almost 2,000 underserved children in Beloit to get two dental checkups this year. Almost 80 percent of Beloit dentists don’t accept Medicaid payments, making it difficult for families on Medicaid to access affordable regular or any dental care. The program grew in 2016, treating 684 additional patients than in 2015. For next year, healthcare providers want to bring Seal-A-Smile to even more Beloit children and address more needs. Expanding the services for issues like rampant decay could also help children find urgent care. 

What children’s health innovation stories have you read lately? Share them with us @NICHQ on Twitter!

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