The Centers for Disease Control reports that one in 10 children and one in 12 adults suffer from asthma, costing our nation an estimated $56 billion per year. Beyond the financial impact on the health care industry, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) finds that approximately 36,000 kids miss school and 27,000 adults miss work each day due to asthma. The unintended consequences that asthma has on our economy, families, and basic educational and business operations, are sizeable. Worse, the AAFA also reports that asthma sends 4,700 people to the emergency room and results in 1,200 hospital admissions and nine deaths every day.
To combat these shocking findings, the Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® (HKHF) initiative teamed up with the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest (ALAUM) to implement community-based interventions to improve the health outcomes of children with asthma. The "Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma Project" began in July of 2012 and has engaged nearly 70 clinics that serve high-risk populations, improving pediatric asthma care for an estimated 480,000 children and their parents to date. The program aims to directly impact children with asthma and their caregivers, community leaders and educators, resulting in improved long-term care outcomes. Using our own members’ claims data, we are able to target the communities and health centers with the greatest need for these services.
Through this project, in partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, ALAUM recruited five clinics per year for three years to form a cohort. The clinics in the cohort then meet monthly over the course of the year, focusing each month on improving one element of guidelines-based asthma care at their clinic. Technical assistance, mentoring and training are provided by ALAUM. By the end of the one-year partnership, all levels of clinic staff, from front office staff to clinic directors and all stages of clinic care, from intake to outpatient, have been addressed. This results in a sustainable change in the primary care system, which produces measurable improvements in health outcomes for asthma patients. Outcome measurement data from the first round of cohorts, which included 23 clinics, are incredibly positive and found statistically significant improvements. Case studies from the first-year cohorts found, on average across six key outcome measures, a 65 percent improvement within 12 months of intervention and 75 percent after 18 months. Second- and third-year cohorts are underway and are showing similar trends in producing positive results for children and families impacted by asthma.