Health IT startup building system to improve access to foster children health records

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One of the complexities of the foster child system is that children tend to move around. A lot. That can make it tricky to ensure their medical records are kept up to date and that foster parents have access to this information, along with the children themselves when they leave the system. A health IT startup is developing a variation of its cloud-based patient record system to make it easier to do both things.

Paoli, Pennsylvania-based AboutOne is developing the cloud-based Communication System with the Philadelphia Department of Health and Human Services and the Child Welfare League of America. It is using crowdfunding website IndieGogo to raise $50,000 for the initiative. By developing a cloud-based system it will prevent records from getting lost and enable them to be more frequently updated.

Joanne Lang, the founder and CEO of the company, said it is working on pilot programs with the two agencies with children as they enter into care. It is also working on a third program for teens, according to e-mailed responses to questions.

“Once we have taken lessons learned from this we will make the system available to all cities and states. If others [want] to be in the pilot we are happy to have them as well.  We are working on a consortium of cities and states to drive this forward in the future,” she said. “I think the issue is that it was very challenging for any one agency to do this, because its a high investment on the platform side, we already had that investment and so are building on something that already exists.”

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Although many states require that foster children have an electronic medical passport, Texas passed a law requiring this in 2005, the records may get updated infrequently. In California, each time a foster youth is relocated, a comprehensive paper file  of his or her medical records — the health passport — is supposed to be forwarded promptly to the new caregiver but that doesn’t always happen.

One of the challenges in developing a solution to this nagging problem is addressing the confidentiality issue of who should have access to the information. Some states seem to be flummoxed by the question of how to balance this confidentiality question with preventing information from being inaccessible to those who need it most. Last year Ventura County, California-based nonprofit Children’s Partnership  said it would try piloting a health information exchange between caregivers and healthcare providers.

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Stephanie Baum

By Stephanie Baum

Stephanie Baum is the East Coast Innovation Reporter for MedCityNews.com. She enjoys covering healthcare startups across health IT, drug development and medical devices and innovations deployed to improve medical care. She graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and has worked across radio, print and video. She's written for The Christian Science Monitor, Dow Jones & Co. and United Business Media.
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