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Autism, Vaccines and Healthcare IT

A great debate today is a question of the connection between childhood vaccination and Autism. No one seems to have a straight answer. There are many individual studies and people who claim that there is a causal relationship between vaccines and autism. On the opposite side, the Center for Disease Control [CDC] asserts that there is no link between vaccines and autism. In Europe, there are countries with better data and freer access to that data that are beginning to assert preliminary conclusions. Regardless of how loudly one side is screaming, there is no clear answer either way in this debate, all studies and theories are subject to suspicion. The electronification of healthcare would enable doctors and researchers to access accurate information about autism and about childhood vaccinations, giving them a foundation for further research.

There are many difficult choices that new parents face, and every choice has a possible impact on their child’s future. Especially for first time parents, it can be extremely hard to have to make a decision between what seems to be two great risks. There are people trying to help by heaping advice on the parents, leaving them with a wealth of opinion and little fact. It is within this pool of indecision that stress expands, leaving parents feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. A single mother can find herself bringing her baby in for a routine checkup, only to be told it is time for vaccinations. She has heard her friends talk about the dangers of vaccinations, but has forgotten to research it for herself. She has no-one to assist her with the decision of whether or not to vaccinate, only her pediatrician’s biased word.

What if she had access to all the data about vaccinations, both pro and con, in one mobile app that she could reference right there in the exam room? If studies were able to be collected and collated, to provide instant reliable information for parents, it could provide peace and confidence for all parents, enabling them to make a decision based on their own research and not on hearsay.

This data cannot be made available to everyone until it is first collected. In 2013, we only had 7 out of 50 states with over 50% adoption to EHRs.1 By converting healthcare to electronic and mobile platforms, data about both autism and childhood vaccination would be able to be collected. This would provide researchers with the ability to compare and contrast, and come up with solutions, and it would provide parents with the ability to make an informed decision about their child’s future. Confidence for patients and hope for an ultimate answer could be produced through expanded electronic healthcare.

1 http://dashboard.healthit.gov/HITAdoption/?view=0

 
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