Taking Asthma Care to New Heights

07 May 2014
Time and again, the Kansas City, MO, community has proven it cares about asthma control. To help the more than 150,000 children diagnosed with the disease in its region, the Greater Kansas City area Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) initiative, led by the Kansas City Quality Improvement Consortium (KCQIC), helped facilitate Kansas City Teams Up for Asthma Control (KC TUAC). KC TUAC builds on the Asthma Ready® Program (ARP) in cooperation with the University of Missouri at Columbia and the Missouri School Boards’ Association.
Since its inception, the community has raved about the program. Eighty-seven percent of school nurses and 93 percent of parents surveyed would recommend KC TUAC.
“The program takes something that is confusing and scary and explains it better than anything I’ve ever seen,” said Lizzie Cockrell, Asthma Ready coordinator at Davidson Elementary.
The program offers free, evidence-based, multimedia asthma education to students, school nurses, and families. School nurses communicate with each student’s primary care physician (PCP) to provide continuous and comprehensive care.
“One of the challenges of the program is providing an efficient form of communication and information about participating students to their caregivers, families, and health providers,” said Poornima Kumar, director of quality improvement for KCQIC. “Without effectively communicating the students’ assessment and clinical results to caregivers and providers, quality of care suffers.”
In hopes of taking the program to the next level, KCQIC addressed the issue by distributing to its participating schools electronic tablets that have an application specially designed to enhance and streamline communication. Dr. Ben Francisco, Asthma Ready Founder, Health Management Systems, developed the first electronic assessment tools (TUAC Student Form, TUAC Follow-Up Student Form) that are integrated to an Asthma Ready dashboard. The application allows educational videos about asthma, inhalers, triggers, and refreshers for nurses on techniques. The assessments are sent electronically to the providers and can be uploaded directly to patient files.
“The ability to provide real-time assessments and referrals to patients, caregivers, and providers is extremely valuable to providing care to patients. The schools have been provided with a powerful tool that allows them to determine the current state of students’ impairment and provide information at point of care. Evidence demonstrates that positive asthma outcomes are contingent upon careful assessment of asthma risk and impairment by health professionals,” said Kumar.
The greatest challenge was ensuring the application was able to collect all the required information for assessment and ensuring user friendliness. These issues were overcome through in-depth analysis of the application and proper training. School nurses were provided with a demonstration of the tablet. The general consensus was that this new tool would enhance access and make time spent with students more meaningful.
“The biggest challenge was communicating details with our doctors. The tablet is amazing because with the click of a button, everyone can see the students’ assessment,” said Cockrell.
KCQIC will continue to evolve its program to meet the needs of the community. Providers in the area are now being trained about receiving not only information from school nurses but also assessment information from the tablets.
“Everybody who received the demonstration of the tablets was excited about the technology. It has provided Kansas City with an innovative technology. The school nurses, providers, board members, and care coordinators were proud to be the first in the country to achieve this level of information exchange,” said Catherine Davis, project director of AF4Q Kansas City.
Asthma Ready® Communities (ARC) is an overarching endeavor to provide standardized, evidence-based educational programs for children with asthma, families, and health professionals. These programs enhance the readiness of health care professionals and facilities to provide cost-efficient care that is compliant with the Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma: Expert Panel Report 3. For parents and caregivers, these programs provide comprehensive steps to improve asthma control in infants and children. For facilities, Asthma Ready® is a designation indicating that the facility has participated in asthma training, has the resources, and is committed to delivering appropriate services, maintaining communication standards, and conducting quality improvement efforts to ensure best practices for caring for children with asthma.