A comprehensive, patient-centered approach to asthma care that includes education, referrals to specialists and home visits not only improves patients' health but also has tremendous potential to decrease health care costs.
The research was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting. Asthma is the leading cause of admissions at Children's Hospital Boston, particularly among minority patients from low socio-economic backgrounds. To improve asthma care in this high-risk group, researchers developed an "asthma medical home" within their primary care clinic. They identified 1,900 asthmatic patients and initiated education sessions that included a review of asthma basics, appropriate medication use, how to recognize and manage an asthma attack, and common environmental asthma triggers.
Families also received assistance obtaining medications; referrals to allergy and pulmonary specialists; and support in reducing environmental triggers, which included access to dust mite covers and home visits for assessments and remediation of identified triggers (e.g., pests, mold).
Emergency department (ED) visits and inpatient hospitalization rates in the year before the program was in place were compared with those two years after program initiation.
Results showed that ED visits for asthma-related reasons decreased 63 percent (from 26 percent in 2006 to 9.9 percent in 2009), while inpatient hospitalization rates decreased 62 percent (from 10.5 to 4 percent).
"With increased access to their primary care providers, increased knowledge about their child's disease process and greater control over environmental triggers, families are better empowered to manage their children's asthma symptoms," said Faye F. Holder-Niles, MD, MPH, lead author of the study. "This comprehensive approach to asthma can have tremendous impact on the lives of asthmatic patients."
To see the abstract, go to this link.
The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) are four individual pediatric organizations who co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting – the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Members of these organizations are pediatricians and other health care providers who are practicing in the research, academic and clinical arenas. The four sponsoring organizations are leaders in the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy within pediatrics, and all share a common mission of fostering the health and well being of children worldwide. For more information, visit www.pas-meeting.org. Follow news of the PAS meeting on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PedAcadSoc