Increasing and improving the teen well visit: lessons from 27 Alabama practices

by Cason Benton, MD, FAAP

Alabama pediatricians know that the teen well visit supports the “healthy cognitive, physical, sexual, and psychological development [adolescents need] to successfully enter adulthood” (AAP Policy Statement, December 2019). We also know that many1--if not most--teens do not attend the well visit. 

What can we do at the practice level to increase teen well visits? 

ACHIANewsFall2020Check out the Fall 2020 edition of the ACHIA Newsletter to find out about our newest collaborative. The ACHIA Newsletters provide information about current quality improvement initiatives, collaborative outcomes and more. Check out our latest publication!

Alabama’s children achieve better outcomes when challenges in infancy and toddlerhood related to development, autism, social-emotional concerns, and maternal depression are identified and addressed early on. The Best Beginnings collaborative began in January 2020 to support primary care practices in improving their current screening processes or to introduce new screenings into their workflow. Fourteen pediatric practices and 67 pediatricians began orientation, module work and data collection using the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Quality Improvement Data Aggregator with practice interventions aligning around the key drivers of engaging QI team and practice, managing population, building community capacity, reliable screening and referral completion, and parent/guardian engagement. Practices self-selected ONE of the early screening tools (development, autism, social-emotional, or postpartum depression) to change workflow to increase the rate of recommended well-child visit screenings and referral for services for conditions impacting children ages one month to three years. 

This work, however, was interrupted in early March as the nation was hit with the COVID-19 crisis; screening and referral completion paused from March through May to focus on COVID-19 workflow changes while working on early screening, documentation and referral tracking. 

Practices continued to attend the regularly scheduled monthly practice webinars and report out on shared experiences around COVID-19 during the last three months, which included the following: 

QI collaborative will focus on developmental, autism, social-emotional and maternal depression screening

Alabama’s children achieve better outcomes when challenges in infancy and toddlerhood related to development, autism, social-emotional concerns, and maternal depression are identified and addressed early on. Best Beginnings, an Alabama Child Health Improvement Alliance (ACHIA) Early Screening and Referal collaborative, will support primary care practices in 2020 to improve their current screening processes or to introduce new screenings into their workflow.

Participating practices will be encouraged to focus on one screening process during the collaborative. Online modules for all practice members will provide clinical education, and the one-hour monthly webinars, held from January through September, will allow practices to learn from one another and from Alabama-based content experts about screening processes, best practices, and quality improvement. Practices will track data over time to ensure interventions lead to improvements.

RaulersonAward2019Pictured: Drs. Marsha Raulerson and Cason BentonThe Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) hosted its annual awards dinner on Saturday, Sept. 28 in Birmingham, Alabama. E. Cason Benton, M.D., FAAP, Academic General Pediatrics, was among those honored.

Dr. Benton received the Marsha Raulerson Advocacy Award. This award recognizes service to children through dedication to better policies for improved child health. The award is named in honor of Marsha Raulerson, M.D., FAAP, of Brewton, who has worked tirelessly for children in Alabama during her more than 30 years of practicing community pediatrics through consistent and effective advocacy for children’s programs and policies at the local, state and national levels. Dr. Benton states, “It is both an honor and humbling to receive an award named for Dr. Raulerson, one of my pediatric heroes. I hope to continue in her footsteps.”