The mid-term progress report on a three-year project to improve asthma care in managed-care plans offers anecdotal evidence that compliance with medical treatment guidelines reduces the symptoms of asthma sufferers.
An initial report from the Outcomes Management System Consortium early this year showed that significant numbers of asthma patients weren't familiar with those guidelines and weren't getting the intervention of caregivers to prevent and manage asthma outbreaks (Feb. 20, p. 40).
The information on asthma outcomes and opportunities for improvement came from a survey developed by the Health Outcomes Institute, one of the sources of evaluation instruments that the Foundation for Accountability, or FAcct, will be tapping for its outcomes initiative.
Armed with that information, managed-care plans are providing their asthma sufferers with preventive steps to take, said Stephen Davidow, spokesman for the Health Outcomes Institute.
For example, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts identified its severe asthmatics and mailed them postcards offering a device to monitor their breathing capacity, a key recommendation for managing the condition. About 2,000 responded and were supplied with the device, called a peak flow meter.
"This project is a prime example of the patient-centered outcomes measures that we think are relevant to employers and consumers," said Dwight McNeill, co-chairman of FAcct.