Researchers from the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University have demonstrated the potential of an automated system to help primary care physicians screen for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) more effectively and efficiently, according to an article published in Infants & Young Children.
The work of the research team centered on the implementation of the Child Health Improvement through Computer Automation (CHICA) system, an open source tool that comprises an EHR and aclinical decision support system (CDSS) for pediatric preventive care anddisease management.
“Autism isn’t like strep throat where you can do a quick throat swab and then have a diagnosis,” lead author Nerissa Bauer, MD, of the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine said last Friday.
“Autism is a behavioral diagnosis and can look very different depending on the child. Some behaviors are subtle, especially early on. CHICA prompts parents to think about whether they have concerns about certain health risks, such as autism, which makes it easier for the doctor to focus on key issues during a hectic visit.”
According to Bauer et al., the purpose of the tool is to address limitations commonly present in primary care practices when it comes to screening children for ASD. “Limited visit time, low reimbursement, logistics of the clinic workflow, and lack of appropriate staff to implement these tools continue to be major barriers to implementing clinical guidelines in primary care practice,” the authors write.
• 8 (11%) children were suspected of having an ASD, but not referred; and
• 2 (3%) were referred for an audiology evaluation.