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Improving healthcare and rehabilitative efforts for juvenile offenders through the use of technology
By Michael Jakovcic
Published: 11/11/2019

Juvenile justice courthouse Health Information Technology (HIT) enables the electronic collection, storage, and exchange of patient information and includes a range of products and services, including software, hardware, and infrastructure. The goal of HIT in a juvenile justice setting is to increase the capacity for a youth’s clinical information to flow between healthcare providers in different settings, enhance the coordination and continuity of care, inform clinical decision making by supplying timely access to accurate information, provide necessary clinical documentation, empower people by giving them better access and control over their own health information, and improve workflow efficiency.

Today, significant research and funding has served as the catalyst for juvenile justice reform and the rehabilitative model across the country, where many juvenile justice agencies are using similar risk and needs assessments, standardizing information, and implementing evidence-based programming – particularly when it comes to medical and mental health. The use of electronic health records (EHR) and various other healthcare technologies play a crucial part in the delivery of healthcare within a juvenile justice environment and are emerging as a valuable means of enhancing the provision of medical, behavioral health, and dental care in juvenile justice settings. While the programming and practices have evolved and become more streamlined, for many juvenile justice agencies their information systems have not and are still grappling with paper records.

Given the high rates of juvenile offenders in need of such services and the new norms of communication among young people in general, implementing comprehensive healthcare technology throughout the organization is a promising approach for increasing the availability and delivery of services, as well as engagement and compliance with treatment recommendations. Several factors considered to be key technological drivers in improving healthcare and rehabilitation services for juvenile offenders includes, but is not limited to, workflow automation, systems integration, and reporting/analytics.

Automated workflows and rapid documentation streamline repetitive tasks and instantly updates the juvenile’s charts. EHRs provide automated workflows that are set up to work the way you work to help improve clinical effectiveness and efficiency and enable more informed clinical decision-making. The clinical content available in EHRs can easily be customized for use yet is also exceptional in providing a consistent clinical vocabulary across the organization. This means you can compare data “apples to apples” within your clinic, throughout the enterprise, or across the nation. Intelligent decision support tools are built into the system to bring critical information right to the point of care, facilitating informed treatment decisions. Data is continuously managed by the system and will alert users of any specific needs or constraints for additional clinical decision support. EHRs enable you to benchmark your clinical outcomes against nationally accepted quality standards, follow disease and treatment trends, and maximize your success in a juvenile health setting.

Comprehensive EHRs should not only provide functionality such as medical and mental health charting, dental charting, medication administration records, and various other clinical capabilities that are essential to your daily operations, they should also possess a robust integration engine. Integration and coexistence with other computer systems must be an integral part of every EHR installation. This includes interfaces with the Juvenile Management System (JMS), Pharmacy, Laboratory, Radiology, and even other systems such as the Health Information Exchange (HIE) or Hospital EHRs in order to send/receive clinical and demographic data electronically without the need to reconcile this data manually. The automatic exchange of juvenile information on or prior to release can expedite the process of providing treatment in the community while also improving continuity, consistency and delivery of community-based treatment. It could also be beneficial for the exchange of information to go from community health centers back to the juvenile justice agency upon readmission to the institution.

Integrating electronic health records (EHR) with other sources of administrative data is key to identifying factors affecting the long-term health of traditionally underserved populations, such as individuals involved in the justice system. Reports can be run both ad-hoc for simple querying of statistical information as well as having the capability to develop a complicated, analytical report for advanced forecasting. EHRs, in general, provide guidance to evaluate the utility of big data for population health research. In conclusion, the use of EHRs and other health information technologies in the provision of medical and mental health services in the juvenile justice industry is expected to increase rapidly over the next several years. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all EHR/HIT systems are similar, and thus, the ongoing adoption process, including selection of the system and implementation of new technologies as they are developed, is critical for success.

Michael Jakovcic is the Executive Vice President of Fusion EHR. Fusion was founded as a Health Information Technology (HIT) Consulting Firm specializing in the procurement, implementation, and project management of EHR’s within Correctional and Juvenile Justice Agencies. Since that time, Fusion has taken their expertise and knowledge of the industry and developed the most flexible, robust, and configurable EHR System for the justice industry. For over a decade, Fusion EHR has been delivering its EHR system to County and State Department of Corrections and Juvenile Justice Agencies. Contact Michael at BD@FusionMGT.com


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