More than half of teens become sexually active by age 18, according to the CDC. To effectively treat sexually active patients and prevent later complications from sexually transmitted diseases, Akron Children’s Hospital began screening these patients for STDs even if they didn’t have symptoms. After one year, Akron Children’s more than doubled screenings and treated 11% of screened patients for an STD.
“In teenage girls, chlamydia is usually asymptomatic,” said physician informaticist Dr. David Karas about the importance of screening even patients without symptoms. “This really is a big deal. We know that many of our patients are sexually active, and it’s our responsibility to get those patients the right treatment.”
When a patient’s history or other information in the chart shows a sexual history and the patient hasn’t had an STD screening recently, providers at Akron Children’s see guidance in Epic to order one. If the test is positive, the provider can quickly choose a diagnosis and treatment, such as in-office medications or a prescription.
To finish up, the provider acknowledges in Epic having covered important topics with the patient, like being sure to finish the entire course of antibiotics and asking sexual partners to be tested. Then, the patient can take home education materials targeted toward teen readers.
“The guidance in Epic reminds providers to do something that they know is important and have that discussion with the patient,” Dr. Karas said.