Outpatient asthma management remains suboptimal. We previously reported significant improvements in asthma guideline adherence and outcomes in children by using quality-improvement processes and community health workers. We hypothesized that a larger project could achieve comparable outcome improvements with streamlined quality-improvement processes and decreased technical assistance.
Seventeen clinics treating 12 000 children with asthma were evaluated through interviews of a subset of patients with persistent or high-risk asthma (n = 761) at baseline and at 12 and 21 months and chart reviews randomly selected from all patients with asthma at baseline and 12 and 24 months (n = 2040). Multidisciplinary teams developed data-driven continuous quality-improvement activities. Asthma coordinators provided patient education and were active team members.
Study children were predominantly Hispanic (77%) and black (11%); 60% were enrolled in Medicaid, and 9% were uninsured. Comparing results between baseline and the 21-month follow-up, significantly fewer families reported emergency-department visits (29.6% vs 9.3%), hospitalizations (10.9% vs 3.4%), frequent daytime symptoms (44.0% vs 11.7%), and missed school days (28.7% vs 13.6%); significantly more reported confidence in asthma management (70.6% vs 95.5%); and quality-of-life scores increased significantly for both children and caregivers (all P < .05). Cross-sectional data revealed significant clinic-wide improvements in symptom documentation, health care use, and review of action plans.
On a larger scale, this approach realized impressive changes in provider clinical practice associated with major improvements in health outcomes. It holds great potential for significantly reducing asthma-related morbidity among low-income children.