Health IT helps school nurses coordinate care for children

Donna Mazyck | May 8, 2014

Imagine this: A third grade boy diagnosed with Sickle-cell disease wakes up during the night experiencing severe pain in his chest.  His father alerts the pediatrician that he and his son are on their way to the emergency department (ED) of a hospital near their home. The pediatrician phones the ED to say her patient will arrive soon. The boy receives treatment in the ED and is admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of acute chest syndrome. Within three days, this student returns to school. 

End of story? More like the beginning.

Fortunately, this student’s school nurse knew what recently transpired in this critical health episode because the parent alerted her electronically. With parent permission, the school nurse electronically accesses the student’s health record where she can view the care instructions after the student is discharged. This access enables the school nurse to reinforce those care instructions and to plan for the student’s health and safety needs while in school.

Does this sound like a glimpse into the future?  In some places, the future has arrived! Care providers and school nurses collaborate with families and students External Links Disclaimer to allow for true integration of care for children and adolescents.

School nurses provide care coordination for students by linking primary health-care providers, specialists, support services, and families. School nurses practice with education and health professionals to meet student health needs.  When students transition from hospital to home and school and from dependent to independent management of their chronic disease, school nurses lead the way in coordination so that gaps in care are identified and filled.

Electronic health records (EHRs) are essential for the school nurse to provide efficient and effective care in the school and monitor the health of the entire student population. EHRs allow school nurses to be more efficient and identify data trends quicker. It is the school nurse’s role to collaborate with school administrators to ensure that EHR use meets the highest quality standards for the safety and protection of student, family and staff information. EHRs in the school setting provide a means of integrating health and educational data in a way that addresses the needs of children at risk for poor health or academic outcomes. The National Association of School Nurses provides additional information on EHRs in schools External Links Disclaimer.

Be well, and feel free to leave a comment below!

Donna Mazyck
Executive Director, National Association of School Nurses