Information is power – and the sharing of information among doctors and researchers is one of the best ways to empower physicians to better diagnose and treat ADHD, a chronic condition that affects about 4.5 million children nationwide. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued evidence-based guidelines for ADHD care, but most pediatricians and family practitioners have trouble implementing them.
That’s why Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center launched an interventional program called ADHD Collaborative that uses innovative methods and tools (such as Web portals) to promote and support AAP guidelines. The program has been hugely successful: appearing to produce 2 to 4-fold increases in use of these guidelines among the more than 200 physicians in the area who took advantage of the training and information.
The key now is to find out if the adoption of these guidelines has had an effect on the quality of care. After all, that’s what it’s all about – improving the health and wellness of kids.
In the spirit of greater collaboration and getting information to the people who need it most, Cincinnati Children’s and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus jointly applied for and were awarded a $2.6 million research grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to determine if improved ADHD care translates to improved outcomes. One hundred physicians and 600 patients from 36 pediatric practices in central Ohio will be recruited this fall for the study, which will run through July of 2015.
According to Jeff Epstein, PhD, a psychologist in the Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology at Cincinnati Children’s, the program has substantial public health significance:
“If the program continues to prove effective, the model has the potential to be implemented at community pediatric practices across the nation, which could potentially improve the ADHD care and outcomes of hundreds of thousands of children nationwide.”
In a news release, Kelly Kelleher, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice and vice president of Health Services Research at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s, adds that he and his colleagues have several expectations for the program. “We are hoping to improve patient outcomes and enhance our collaborations with Cincinnati Children’s,” he said. “We are also hoping to establish a network of primary care practices that are interested in large-scale quality improvement programs.”
Going forward, it’s also likely that there will be more and more government grants awarded to hospitals, physicians and researchers who work together on a common cause. Funds are increasingly hard to secure, and the government (and private institutions) recognize that collaboration not only allows researchers to leverage a larger pool of knowledgeable professionals, but also to accelerate the rate at which information is disseminated to the community.