Review of “Bright Futures VisitPlanner” for iOS

“Bright Futures” is a national children’s health promotion initiative that has been adopted by the American Academy of Pediatrics for well-child care and is used in most pediatric practices.

These guidelines include recommendations in 26 categories covering 32 recommended well-child visits from newborns to 21 year-olds, and keeping track of recommendations at each visit is a challenge. Making these recommendations more accessible is the challenge the Bright Futures VisitPlanner app from the AAP attempts to address.

The home screen opens to the “Doctor’s Dashboard,” which may be a bit off-putting to non-physician primary care providers.

68193-Image 1 Dashboard_home screen

Users can choose “visits” or “patients.” Choosing visits brings up the “Visit Plan Builder,” where users can select one of the 32 recommended visits or create their own custom visit. The planner can be connected to a specific child or used generically. Users can input recommended immunizations scheduled (if connected to a specific patient) or view generic schedules under the “immunizations” tab. Under the “Anticipatory Guidance” tab, users can input some or all specific recommended anticipatory guidance questions for the patient’s age.

68193-Image 2 -- building visit

Users can also input, under the “notes” tab, information on guidance given, immunizations, and patient info. Selecting “patients” enables users to add new patients with demographic data, photos, records of illnesses, and birth information. The records of illnesses do not come pre-programmed with any list of conditions or ICD-9 codes, so requires all free text. Also, the birth information is limited to time and anthropometric data, without fields for newborn screens (e.g., the congenital heart screen, hearing screen, metabolic screens) or even free text information. Once the build is complete, users can view the “visit plan” which includes recommended screening and physical exam maneuvers under the “perform” tab, immunizations, the selected anticipatory guidance questions, and any inputted notes. Once the visit is selected, users have to return to the visit screen to edit the visit, while users in the “in visit” mode can check off immunizations or anticipatory guidance questions as completed. The header is helpfully different — blue in the “visit plan builder” mode and green in the “in visit” mode.

68193-Image 3 visit plan

The visit summaries can be emailed or AirPrinted once completed, with the app warning about the data security of email — although there is no mention of data security elsewhere on the app.

68193-Image 4 Email disclaimer

The app also includes PDFs of the “Bright Future” Previsit questionnaires and parent handouts for each recommended well-child visit, although they are only in English and not available in Spanish. Starting in adolescence with the 11 year-old visit, the app includes separate parent and patient handouts. There is a section for “Tools and Resources”, which has useful information, although mostly via embedded web links to the AAP’s Bright Futures website.

68193-image 5 resources and coding

68193-Image 6 Practice guides

There are also BSA and BMI calculators, a PDF of the summary “Bright Futures” schedule, and a useful PDF on “Coding for Pediatric Preventive Care”. None of the PDFs can be opened in any other PDF app. Lastly, the app includes a section on “Doctor’s Contacts” where users can input other providers and their contact information and link those providers to specific patients.

68193-image 7 Adding other professionals

  • Price
    • Free, full access for residents with AAP membership or via a $39.99 in-app purchase
    • Comprehensive list of recommended screenings, immunizations, and anticipatory guidance
    • Easy to use
    • Ability to keep track of patients longitudinally
  • Dislikes
    • Does not include screening tools, such as Cavity Assessment Tool or M-CHAT (though many tools are proprietary)
    • Some resources not integrated into the app
    • No ability to open PDFs in other apps
    • No decision support (i.e., documenting an illness such as “prematurity” in the patient section does not cause the app to deliver illness-specific screening recommendations)
    • Unclear HIPAA protection
  • Overall

    The Bright Futures VisitPlanner app is a powerful tool for primary care pediatricians and family physicians, with an easy-to-use visit planner.  Its limitations prevent it from a being an EHR replacement, since users cannot chart or bill from the app, and its HIPAA protections are not clear. However, users with no, or rudimentary, EHRs or those who want to review recommendations prior to a well-child visit would find a lot to like in this app.

  • Overall Score
  • User Interface

    Very easy-to-use, clean interface for most of the app, but does suffer a bit from in-app websites for some of its resources.

  • Multimedia Usage

    PDFs are not handled exceptionally well, and more advanced media, such as growth charts, seem absent. But the app’s clean interface uses the iOS device screens well.

  • Price

    Great value for AAP members, but $39.95 is pricey for non-AAP members

  • Real World Applicability

    Bright futures is essential to pediatric providers and the app is easy-to-use, so is very useful in real-world pediatric practice.

  • Available for DownloadiPhoneiPad