- December 12, 2012
- Jennifer Salerno
The Michigan Department of Community Health oversees the Child and Adolescent Health Center (CAHC) program which provides funding and administrative oversight to 70 school-based and school-linked health centers across the state. Michigan has the fourth largest school-based health center program in the country, with centers located in medically underserved areas in order to care for the state’s most vulnerable children and teens.
Carrie Tarry is the Manager of the Adolescent and School Health Unit for the Michigan Department of Community Health. In this role, Carrie oversees many programs including teen pregnancy prevention, health education, coordinated school health, school nursing and the CAHCs.
These school-based and school-linked health centers (CAHCs) are primary care settings, located either within or close to a school. In addition to managing physical health, the centers offer a wide continuum of health-related screenings and services such as: mental health care, dietary guidance, health education and risk reduction, oral healthcare, and insurance enrollment assistance. Carrie likes to say “Anything you can get in a pediatrician’s office you are able to get at a school based health center, plus more.”
In Michigan, State-funded CAHCs are required to administer a risk assessment on all patients by the third visit that the teen makes to that center. This is a state-based rule for the CAHCs and it is also a best practice recommendation and guideline nationally.
Access to the data was especially important to the state of Michigan – particularly the ability to review data across multiple CAHCs. Carrie says “We ran the school-based health center program for 15 years and never had risk data about the teens accessing care. We could not report on their overall risks or the progress that we were making in changing behaviors. We could not compare our CAHCs or help them match their programs to the needs of their teen patients.”
Carrie further explains “We had 60+ centers identifying risk behaviors and no way to collect, consolidate, and report the data on those adolescent populations. We didn’t have any population data because it was all sitting in patient charts. We wanted to paint a clear picture for ourselves and the CAHCs about what the needs of the teens accessing these centers. We wanted to be able to look at data for differences between rural and urban centers, for regional – like between the Upper Peninsula and Detroit, for race/ethnicity differences, and income disparity differences. We immediately saw the value of the data.”
And the state is using this newly gathered data, on the “real issues” teens are struggling with, to tailor program offerings. Carrie explains “We wanted to make sure that centers direct their programs towards the needs of the patients coming into the center. If most teens are saying that they have depression or that they need sexual health information – we wanted to ask the centers ‘Do you have programs around those areas?’” Carrie states that the number of centers who actually use RAAPS is a testament to the support of the product.
Finally Carrie hopes that RAAPS is used even more on a national basis, saying: “It would be huge for school-based health centers across the country to have aggregate data on the teen populations we serve and to be able to show the differences we are making in changing their risky behaviors over time. Getting more comparative data on a national level would be icing on the cake.”
Read more about the Michigan Department of Community Health and how they put RAAPS into practice by viewing their case study.
Contact us today with questions about how to effectively integrate RAAPS into your practice!