UF Health researchers have received a grant to use big data analytics to improve health care for children in Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) in Florida and Texas.
Through funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the UF Health team will serve as one of six Pediatric Quality Measures Programs. The programs will focus on testing and implementing new pediatric quality measures developed by the PQMP Centers of Excellence.
Quality measures are used to evaluate or quantify specific health care processes, outcomes or other factors related to health-care delivery. Specifically, the pediatric quality measures are used by state Medicaid and CHIP to measure and improve the quality of children’s health care.
The UF Health research team will focus on two measures: preventive oral health care, and the safe and judicious use of antipsychotic medications for children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP in Florida and Texas.
The team will examine how frequently health-care systems, clinics and providers conduct preventive dental services, including fluoride treatments and sealants, and oral health care during child exams. Dental decay is the most common childhood disease and, if left untreated, can result in missed school days, hospitalization and emergency room visits. More than 80 percent of children receive preventive dental visits in Texas and 60 percent receive these visits in Florida, which are covered by their insurance.
The team will also assess whether antipsychotic medications are administered appropriately or are overused among children in the states’ Medicaid and CHIP programs. They will examine the use of antipsychotic medication in children under 5, the use of higher-than-recommended dosages and the use of multiple, concurrent antipsychotics.
In addition, the team will measure whether children who are on antipsychotic medication are properly monitored for the variety of metabolic-related issues that are frequent side effects of these medications, such as weight gain and significant increases in blood glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Currently, only 31 percent of children in Medicaid in Texas and 35 percent of children in Medicaid in Florida who receive antipsychotic medication have any metabolic screening. Without screening and regular monitoring, these children are at increased risk for developing myriad health complications, such as obesity and diabetes.
In a preliminary wave of funding, the PQMP Centers of Excellence developed a set of new pediatric measures. With a grant of $675,000, the UF Health team will be among researchers at six institutions who will participate in the next phase of work, which will implement and test these newly developed pediatric measures in real-world settings.