From the Journals

Hospital-led interventions cut pediatric asthma hospitalizations

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Biopsychosocial model can improve pediatric asthma outcomes

Of importance, any future efforts to replicate this work in a patient-centered way should include consideration of how information on asthma management is communicated to and understood by patients. Standard tools such as asthma action plans often contain language and other information that is inaccessible to populations with low health literacy levels.

After years of elevated morbidity, the work of Kercsmar et al. is a demonstration of how interdisciplinary care focused within a biopsychosocial model can improve outcomes for vulnerable children. Future efforts to replicate these results in other communities should continue to emphasize this patient-centered, biopsychosocial philosophy, with heightened attention to the challenges that remain for children and families.

Dr. Sean M. Frey and Dr. Jill S. Halterman are in the department of pediatrics at the University of Rochester (N.Y.) School of Medicine and Dentistry. These comments are taken from an accompanying editorial (JAMA Pediatrics 2017, Sep 18. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.2609). No conflicts of interest were declared.


 

FROM JAMA PEDIATRICS

Hospital-driven interventions designed to improve management of asthma in children achieved significant reductions in monthly asthma-related hospitalizations and emergency department visits, according to a paper published online Sept. 18 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Long-term management of pediatric asthma is challenging, and around 40% of children and adolescents hospitalized with the disease tend to be rehospitalized or revisit the emergency department (ED) within 12 months, according to Carolyn M. Kercsmar, MD, of Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, and her coauthors.

“Traditional care models do not adequately address underlying risk factors, propagating disparities and costly health care use,” they wrote (JAMA Pediatrics 2017, Sep 18. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.2600).

This study, initiated by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, involved a range of interventions implemented with inpatients and outpatients and through the community setting, targeting the region’s more than 36,000 children and adolescents with asthma, approximately 13,000 of whom were Medicaid insured.

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These included a program that gave all patients a 30-day supply of medications, an asthma action plan, and standardized inhaler training; an asthma-specific history and physical examination form prompting assessment of chronic asthma control, severity, and triggers; a home health pathway of up to five in-home nurse visits; and care coordinators who applied interventions such as a risk assessment, education, medication home delivery, collaboration with a Medicaid managed care practitioner, and improved access to community resources.

Over the 5-year study, researchers saw a 41.8% relative reduction in asthma-related hospitalizations – from 8.1 to 4.7 per 10,000 Medicaid patients per month. Asthma-related visits to the ED decreased by 42.4%, from 21.5 to 12.4 per 10,000 Medicaid patients per month, and the percentage of patients rehospitalized or who returned to the ED for asthma within 30 days declined from 12% to 7%, “within 3 years of implementation of the inpatient care interventions,” the researchers noted.

There was also a significant increase in the percentage of patients discharged with a 30-day supply of inhaled controller medications, from 50% in May 2008 to 90% in May 2010, and the percentage of patients discharged with a short course of oral corticosteroids increased from 0% to 70% by March 2011.

Outpatient processes ensured that Asthma Control Test scores were collected and that patients were provided with asthma action plans. This was associated with an increase in the percentage of patients with well-controlled asthma from 48% to 54%.

“Implementation of an integrated, multilevel approach focused on enhancing availability and accessibility of treatments, removing barriers to adherence, mitigating risks related to adverse exposures, and augmenting self-management and collaborative relationships between the family and the health care system was associated with improved asthma outcomes,” the authors wrote.

Noting that previous research has found 38%-70% of patients do not get their prescribed medications at hospital discharge, the authors said they believed giving a 30-day supply of all daily asthma medications at discharge was a key part of their success.

The study was supported by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and one author received a grant from the National Institutes of Health. One author declared compensation for a committee role on a study of asthma treatments in children. No other conflicts of interest were declared.

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