Ericom, HealthMaster Enable Health Record Access in Schools

School nurses use the SaaS-based HealthMaster medical-record platform to keep track of students' medications and immunizations.

In schools, software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms aid school nurses in monitoring students' medications and health needs. HealthOffice medical-record software and Ericom's SaaS remote-access platform allows school medical personnel to keep track of students' conditions.

Through Ericom's PowerTerm WebConnect platform, parents can use a SaaS platform to remotely access their children's records, such as whether a vaccine is given or if insulin was administered. PowerTerm WebConnect allows HealthMaster to "take a client server and make it secure over the Internet," Steven McGovern, director of technology at HealthMaster, told eWEEK.

"Parents can log in and see students' immunization record and the last time medication was given," he said. They can log in and see updates on whether students have been given a procedure such as a nebulizer session for asthmatics or a tube feeding.

In addition, HealthMaster's dashboard allows parents to view height and weight readings and growth charts.

By providing this access, the Ericom and HealthMaster software meet the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), McGovern said. FERPA mandates that parents are able to access their children's educational records and to control how the information is disclosed.

It also satisfies Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements.

HealthMaster enables schools to integrate health record data into data warehouses as a community continuity record (CCR), McGovern said. HealthMaster incorporates rules of compliance for these regulations.

"You're only allowed to release the record for certain people," McGovern explained. "When you release the record you also have to log who looked at it as well."

The record database is maintained by a large hospital system in a standardized format that can be shared with doctor's practices, he said. School systems use HealthMaster to record allergy information, blood types, screenings for scoliosis and various health episodes that might occur during a school day, McGovern said.

Nurses have used the software to track tuberculosis threats in the Southwest as well as obesity and asthma issues in the Northeast in areas where factories are located, according to McGovern.

School districts also use HealthMaster's software for its reporting capabilities, McGovern noted.

"It allows administrators in the school districts to provide HR-style reporting to make sure they're using their staff in the right facilities in the school district," he said.

The reporting features help school districts with immunization audits, which take minutes with the HealthMaster software compared with months when being completed using paper records, given all the rules for compliance, McGovern said.

The immunization records can travel with the students electronically to college.

School districts using HealthMaster software include Richland County District No. 2 in South Carolina and Clark County School District in Las Vegas.

Using EHR software in schools allows nurses to save a picture of the student to make sure the right student is getting the correct dosage. They can also verify doses to make sure there's no side effects, McGovern said. Identifying students using the software helps in the case of a substitute nurse administering medication, he noted.

The dashboard app uses Ericom's HTML5 interface to support use on devices such as laptops, Google Chromebooks and iMacs, McGovern said, while also noting that the HTML5 version provides less load on bandwidth than the client-based software. Versions for Android and iOS will be available in the first quarter of 2014, he said.

The HealthMaster software could aid school staff in viewing health info on school trips, such as info on food allergies and medicine administration.

HealthMaster has adapted the software's interface to cater to tech novices, he said. In some cases, nurses are using technology for the first time, "so we have to be intuitive as an interface," McGovern said.

Data viewable in HealthMaster from mapping software can also help epidemiologists carry out bio-surveillance, McGovern noted. Data on flu-like symptoms and other illnesses can advise schools on whether to close a school down due to health scares, he said.