Identified health concerns and changes in management resulting from the Healthy Kids Check in two Queensland practices
Population screening of young children has been proposed to detect early developmental delay and behavioural difficulties, enabling early intervention and prevention of long-term physical and mental health problems.1–3 The Healthy Kids Check (HKC) is an Australian Government initiative to assess 4-year-old children for physical developmental concerns, introduced as a one-off Medicare-funded assessment in 2008. Although now rescinded, the National Health and Medical Research Council review of childhood screening and surveillance did not recommend screening, instead proposing surveillance (meaning “following development over time”).4 The HKC is classified as screening rather than surveillance, because it is a one-off check. With over 282 200 4-year-olds in Australia in 2010,5 this represents a significant health investment.
The HKC is usually administered by general practitioners, who are well placed to identify and subsequently manage potential problems. Children with possible problems may be referred to specialists for confirmation and management. Although implementation of the HKC varies from practice to practice, there are six mandatory screening items: height and weight, vision, hearing, oral health, toileting, and notation of allergies.6