Explore UAB

By Salina Sowell, Communication Coordinator

Adolescents are among those least likely to have access to health care, and they have the lowest rate of primary care use of any age group in the United States. The #StayWell practices are empowering adolescents to be actively engaged in their preventative health care and equip them with the knowledge and skills for a healthy transition into adulthood.

Physician Champion of the collaborative, Nola Ernest, MD, FAAP, shares why this particular collaborative is important to her as well as to pediatric offices that need to work together to provide excellent adolescent care.

What is so important about the adolescent visits that you were motivated to lead and your practice motivated to participate in this collaborative?
Whether a child is eight months, eight years, or 18 years old, he deserves access to physicians who will provide evidence-based, compassionate care. Unfortunately, whether due to discomfort or perceived lack of benefit, annual well visits tend to drop off in adolescence. This results in missed opportunities to address issues that lead to chronic disease in adulthood.

What do you think are the biggest barriers for practices around the state?
We all perceive barriers to practicing optimal adolescent medicine in our practice. These barriers include confusion around confidentiality laws, lack of a clear transition policy, discomfort with addressing sexual health issues, lack of mental health referral sources, and more.

How does participating in the ACHIA collaborative help address these barriers?
The ACHIA collaborative directly addresses some of these barriers by providing practices with access to a summary of Alabama confidentiality laws. We will also be creating and implementing transition policies for our practices. And, although not addressed directly, the ACHIA website offers CME modules regarding sexual health, mental health, and many other topics. The nine-month collaborative began in January, with most of the change ideas being rolled out March through August. Practices interested in adolescent care can visit the ACHIA website at achia.org.

This article first appeared in the First Quarter 2019 Edition of the Alabama Pediatrician Newsletter. See full newsletter here.