THROUGH THE EYES OF A COMMUNITY PEDIATRICIAN
CHOC CHILDREN’S NETWORK HELPS ORANGE COUNTY DOCTORS DELIVER SEAMLESS CARE
Ever since he can remember, Eric H. Ball, MD, wanted to be a pediatrician. “I realized the longer you wait to intervene in patients’ lives, the harder it is for them to change their habits,” says Dr. Ball. “However, children are teachable. You can give them essential tools about healthy lifestyle choices and preventive care that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”
For the past 12 years, Dr. Ball has treated thousands of patients in his practice at Southern Orange County Pediatric Associates (SOCPA). “Most of what we do are check-ups, with a focus on raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted children,” Dr. Ball says. “We spend a lot of time talking with parents about parenting, nutrition, vaccines, discipline, the importance of kids getting enough sleep and setting social media boundaries.
”Occasionally, however, Dr. Ball sees a child with a serious disease, everything from cardiac and orthopaedic conditions to a diagnosis of epilepsy or cancer. Years ago, sending these patients to different specialists often proved challenging because there was no way to directly communicate with the many health professionals and specialists involved. This, in turn, sometimes led to disjointed care for patients, including duplicate or unnecessary testing, and inefficiencies.
With the creation of the CHOC Children’s Network—a health system of close to 1,500 pediatric primary care providers and specialists in Southern California designed to provide seamless care to patients—treating children with complex illnesses has become more coordinated and responsive.
“In my practice, we needed to have a partner to unify our health care system,” explains Dr. Ball. “CHOC Children’s was our logical partner.”
In spring 2018, CHOC Children’s Network will launch an upgraded electronic medical record (EMR) system that will allow communitybased pediatricians and specialists, along with CHOC’s physicians and allied health professionals, to use one electronic chart.
“This new EMR system will lead to more efficiencies with patients, decreased unnecessary testing and improved communication between physicians,” Dr. Ball says. “Aligning with CHOC is a huge step in becoming a modern health system fully integrated from top to bottom.”
The system will also facilitate the collection of population health data, which provide physicians throughout Orange County with best practices information to help deliver scientific, evidence-based medical care. The network currently focuses on creating best practice guidelines for six conditions: asthma, bronchiolitis, community-acquired pneumonia, headaches, acute gastroenteritis and acne.
“I love watching the kids grow up in my practice,” says Dr. Ball. “I feel so fortunate that I get to play a role in their lives. And I like that the CHOC Children’s Network is helping primary care pediatricians throughout the county deliver excellent, evidence-based care. It is a partnership that benefits the entire community.”