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Improving children’s health with the help of technology

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

by Mollie Robinson, RN, BSN

Published on 12/21/2020

Tatyana, who's 9 years old, received a free wellness screening at her school. During the head-to-toe assessment, a registered nurse discovered several dental issues. The nurse documented Tatyana’s vitals and findings in her electronic health record and referred her for additional follow-up. In all, Tatyana needed seven cavity fillings, a stainless-steel cap and oral surgery to remove an erupted tooth. Tatyana underwent a five-hour surgery to restore her dental health, thanks to the funding from Cerner Charitable Foundation.

Too often, unrecognized or undermanaged health conditions can be a barrier to learning for many children. Problems around asthma, vision, hearing, dental pain and persistent hunger are among the most common burdens that hinder academic success. The prevalence of these issues is higher in children of color or those who often have limited access to health care services. Preventative care appointments are an important strategy for early intervention and promoting the health and safety of all young students.

Healthe Kids Screenings, a community-based program from Cerner Charitable Foundation, began offering free health screenings to elementary school children across the Kansas City metro area in March 2007. Today, about 100 schools participate in the program with 20,762 students screened in fiscal year 2020. The comprehensive screenings include height, weight, temperature, body mass index calculation, vital signs, hearing test, near and far vision test, dental check and head-to-toe assessment.

Additionally, Cerner provides each school with health technology solutions for electronic health record creation, scheduling and documentation. Cerner installs the electronic health record systems on the school nurses’ computers and provides complimentary training ─ empowering nurses to run reports and document test results. A statement from the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) underscores the importance of this technology as a tool to keep students healthy.

“EHRs in the school setting are an essential tool for the 21st century school nurse, having the potential to engage school nurses in student-centered practice. School nurse utilization of an EHR has the potential to improve the efficiency and quality of health care, thereby having a positive impact on the health, safety, and educational success of students.” – NASN position paper, January 2019

All students deserve the opportunity to be healthy and successful. With a greater focus on preventative care, reducing disparities and leveraging technology, we can ensure that children have access to the health and wellness programs they need to thrive.

Listen to our conversation below with Lori Halsey, director of health services for the Independence School District in Missouri. The district has participated in the Healthe Kids Screenings program since 2007.

Cerner Charitable Foundation (formerly First Hand) is a 501(c)(3) organization. The Foundation works with school nurses and care teams to connect families to follow-up care and also provides individual medical grants, which totaled $73,018 in the 2020 fiscal year. To learn more about Cerner Charitable Foundation, visit