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Reach Out and Read and developmental screening: using federal dollars through a health services initiative


Oklahoma established the first health services initiative (HSI) to expand Reach Out and Read (ROR), increase developmental screening and improve the quality of well-child visits (Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT)). ROR uses a book in the exam room to assess development and parent-child interaction, however, little is known about the relationship between this training and using a formal developmental screening tool. The purpose of this study is to see if using federal funding would facilitate ROR expansion and if this expansion would improve developmental screening and EPSDT visits in Oklahoma. Medicaid billing data for state fiscal year (SFY) 2018 and 2019 were analyzed. Standard statistical methods were used to analyze the data descriptively to determine the proportion of developmental screenings performed and EPSDT visits. Comparisons were made between ROR and non-ROR sites. Nine new ROR sites were added with 26 new providers/staff and 130 providers/staff at existing sites trained in ROR from Novenber 2018 to June 2019. In SFY 2018, the developmental screening percentage at non-ROR sites was 33% vs 47% at ROR sites (p<0.0001), in SFY 2019 non-ROR sites were 36% vs 48% at ROR sites (p<0.0001). The EPSDT visit percentage in SFY 2018 was 50% at non-ROR sites vs 69% at ROR sites and in SFY 2019 was 51% at non-ROR sites vs 72% at ROR sites. HSIs are an effective way to fund ROR. Additional funding allowed for increased ROR sites and training. ROR sites are more likely to perform developmental screenings and EPSDT visits.

  • community health services
  • public policy

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