Research underway to develop medical passport for foster care kids.

Being a foster kid brings many struggles. Getting proper medical care shouldn’t be one of them.

Two faculty members in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU) are conducting research, including focus group sessions, for Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc., to develop a “medical passport” for each foster child in the area.

“Using information technology, this passport will keep details about the child’s health care and be accessible even when a child changes foster parents,” said Monica Chiarini Tremblay, who is conducting the research along with Weidong Xia, a colleague in the Department of Decision Sciences and Information Systems.

Monica Chiarini Tremblay and Weidong Xia in the College of Business Administration’s behavioral lab

Instead of records being not transferred, not communicated or lost altogether, the medical passport will hold information about the child’s medical condition (including allergies and immunizations) and treatment along with contact information of health care providers. This will lead to consistency of care.

Focus group sessions provide valuable input.

Pat Smith, CIO of Our Kids, along with members of her information technology department, worked with Tremblay to develop a prototype of the medical passport. To get feedback from foster care case workers about the design, Tremblay and Xia conducted focus group sessions at the business school’s behavioral lab in the College of Business Complex on the Modesto A. Maidique campus in September 2010.

“During the sessions, the case workers reviewed the prototype of the medical passport and learned what information was included,” Tremblay said. “More importantly, the participants gave valuable recommendations on other details that should be part of the medical passport, such as records on the child’s vision care.”

Tremblay believes in the power of focus group research, saying that interaction among participants uncovers important information.

Future focus group sessions are planned for foster parents, physicians and nurses.

Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc., a non-profit corporation, serves at-risk and dependent children and their families. Board members include Joyce J. Elam, executive dean of the business school.

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