General Pediatrician-Staffed Behavioral/Developmental Access Clinic Decreases Time to Evaluation of Early Childhood Developmental Disorders

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Abstract

Objective:

To describe and evaluate the effectiveness of a quality improvement project to decrease wait time to evaluation for children referred to Developmental Behavioral Pediatricians (DBPs).

Methods:

The authors created a Behavioral/Developmental Access Clinic (BDAC) staffed by a general pediatrician (GP) and pediatric psychologist. Clinicians in the BDAC provided comprehensive developmental evaluations for children in a discrete age range (<5 yr old). We describe the establishment of the BDAC along with referrals, diagnoses, and recommended follow-up for patients seen by the GP. We used 2-tailed t tests to compare the mean time with initial evaluation for patients seen in BDAC versus a DBP.

Results:

Sixty-three children were seen in BDAC over 6 months. Referrals from the BDAC included: physical/occupational/speech therapy (71%), psychology (35%), audiology (25%), genetics (14%), and neurology (8%). Five patients (8%) were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Compared with time to appointment with a DBP (327 d), mean time to developmental assessment was shorter for the 45 patients who accepted earlier appointments in the BDAC (159 d), and for the 18 children seen in the BDAC as new referrals (11 d), p < .001. Follow-up with a DBP was recommended for 9 (50%) of the new patient referrals evaluated in BDAC.

Conclusion:

The BDAC allowed for earlier developmental assessment of young children, with potential for earlier diagnosis and treatment of developmental disorders, including ASD. Opportunity for initial evaluation in BDAC decreased the number of patients requiring evaluation by DBPs, improving access to this subspecialty in our institution.

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