MaineHealth's service area covers 90,675 patients with asthma, including 27,156 children in southern, central, and western Maine. The AH! (Asthma Health) Program combines standards-based clinical care with robust indoor and outdoor environmental asthma management. Patients receive counseling to manage exposures to environmental triggers in home, school and work settings. The AH! Program has a strong presence outside its clinical settings, having built long-term relationships with community organizations, schools and daycare centers, public health departments, and others. The AH! Program also takes leadership positions to advocate for municipal, state, or national public policy actions—such as bans on tobacco use in public places—that create asthma-friendly environments. The results of these impressive efforts have reduced emergency room use, hospitalizations, and missed school and work days, and improved physician adherence to national guidelines for asthma care. Evaluations at six months post-intervention show a 61 percent reduction in appropriate emergency room use and a 29 percent reduction in hospitalizations. Maine Medical Center, one of MaineHealth's member hospitals, achieved a reduction in emergency room visits from 81 percent to 20 percent and hospitalizations from 32 percent to 3 percent. These improved outcomes resulted in 2006 avoided costs of $61,635 on emergency room visits and $411,470 on hospitalizations.
Health Care Provider
The University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) is a non-profit health care provider serving 12,214 adults and children with asthma in Southeastern Michigan. Since 2005, the UMHS Quality Improvement Steering Committee, a group of multidisciplinary volunteers, has guided improvements in asthma care across the health system. UMHS provides specific, population-based programs for high-risk asthma populations and in-home asthma education through the Michigan Visiting Nurses Asthma Home Environmental Assessment Program. Web-based, standardized NHLBI-compatible guidelines are available to all providers, including standardized asthma action plans and education templates. A comprehensive, validated, all-payer database of asthma patients helps UMHS identify areas of need for targeting interventions and assessing outcomes. As a result of these programs, UMHS achieved a 50 percent decrease in asthma-related hospitalizations among participants in the Children’s Asthma Wellness Program from July 2005 to June 2007. Between June 2006 and June 2007, participants in the home assessment program had a 60 percent decline in ED visits and an 85 percent decrease in hospitalizations.
The Seton Family of Hospitals formed the Seton Asthma Center in 2004 to respond to a rise in asthma-related pediatric emergency department visits and hospitalizations, especially among economically disadvantaged and underserved populations. The Center’s case management workers, all registered respiratory therapists, promote improved patient self-management in bilingual patient education sessions that include in-home environmental assessments, training on appropriate use of medications and peak flow meters, and the development of personalized asthma action plans. The asthma action plan serves as a communication tool between the primary care provider, the school nurse, and the patient. The case managers review each asthma action plan quarterly to ensure each patient has a current, effective plan in place. The Center also operates a mobile caravan that makes monthly visits to public schools to deliver asthma care to uninsured and indigent students. Case managers have partnered with the Central Texas Asthma Coalition and the American Lung Association’s Lung Health Initiatives Committee to raise public awareness, educate providers, and collect surveillance data. This partnership has led to the use of a standardized set of metrics to assess the burden of asthma in the community. For patients enrolled in the program, asthma-related emergency department visits have dropped by 75 percent, and the number of in-patient visits has decreased by 85 percent.