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SUHI Project: Asthma CarePartners Program (current phase)

 

Project:

Asthma CarePartners Program (current phase)

Introduction:

Asthma impacts nearly 10 million children in the United States and 24 million adults.  The annual economic cost of asthma is $19.7 billion with direct costs making up $14.7 billion, and indirect costs such as lost productivity adding another $5 billion.  Of this $19.7 billion, $4.7 billion was spent on preventable visits to the hospital.  These preventable visits to the hospital are due to uncontrolled asthma, yet asthma is a chronic disease that can be managed.  When individuals and families receive sufficient education and medical treatment it’s possible to live a full and active life with asthma without frequent visits to the emergency room or hospitalizations.

The cost for private insurance companies and Medicaid funded providers is enormous: an average emergency room visit for children and adults is $691, while hospitalizations for children average $7,897 and for adults $9,261.  Preventing these costs by educating and empowering those with asthma makes economic sense and significantly impacts the quality of someone’s life and that of their family’s as well.

Project Plan:

Asthma CarePartners (ACP) is a comprehensive asthma management program for children and adults living with the disease.  The program started in the summer of 2011, when the Sinai Urban Health Institute (SUHI) formed partnerships with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) and a Medicaid funded managed care organization, Family Health Network (FHN), to provide the program to identified individuals whose asthma may not be well controlled. 

Preliminary data shows an improvement in participants’ level of asthma control and correct usage of medication, as well as reductions in health resource utilization including ED visits and hospitalizations.  In addition to SUHI's ongoing partnership with FHN, SUHI is working with other health systems to provide the program to members with uncontrolled asthma. 

SUHI has been successfully working in the area of asthma management since 2000; the ACP program marked the beginning of providing an asthma management program to privately insured individuals in addition to those with Medicaid.  The program is offered at no cost to selected members and its goal is to help adults with asthma and caregivers of children with asthma improve asthma control so that everyone can lead more healthy and active lives.  The program utilizes Community Health Workers (CHWs), also known as Community Health Educators, to educate individuals about the disease, triggers and management in their own home. 

In the yearlong active phase of the program, participants may receive up to six home visits and monthly phone calls.  During these interventions they will expand their knowledge and understanding of asthma through education and hands-on demonstration of proper medical device technique.  Since a person’s home environment has a significant impact on the health of someone with asthma, an environmental home assessment is a critical aspect of the program and of helping participants to positively impact their health.  

After a participant has completed the active phase they move into the maintenance phase for six months.  The maintenance portion of the program involves reduced contact via in-person visits and phone calls, but if a participant needs more intervention the option is available to them. 

When appropriate, referrals are made to the Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO) to assist with substandard housing issues that may be highlighted in the environmental assessment.  CHWs work closely with staff from MTO to ensure the issues are addressed sensitively.

Resources:

Project Partners

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois (2011 - 2013)
  • Family Health Network
  • Metropolitan Tenants Organization