New ACHP tool kit provides proven, practical tips for health care professionals who want to develop their own program
WASHINGTON, DC – Health care professionals who want to organize a comprehensive asthma management program for children and families, particularly in the inner-city, have a new resource at their disposal. A tool kit released by the Alliance of Community Health Plans shares proven strategies and lessons learned from a groundbreaking, multi-site intervention that has helped a vulnerable population overcome asthma.
Alleviate Asthma! Cultivating a Successful Pediatric Asthma Initiative contains the collective teachings of 25 health care institutions that participated in the Inner-city Asthma Intervention, a four-year Centers for Disease Control & Prevention-funded project to help inner-city children and their families who are affected by chronic childhood asthma. The ACHP tool kit, which was also funded as part of the CDC project, discusses strategies from the programs staged at these institutions.
“Nearly 20 million Americans are living with asthma, including more than 6 million children under the age of 18,” said John Spiegel, director of grants and contracts at the Alliance of Community Health Plans. “Inner-city children are disproportionately affected by asthma and are the group most likely to have difficulty accessing adequate treatment and medications. The Alleviate Asthma! tool kit will help health care professionals build a successful program that could help address asthma in their community from the ground up.”
Key lessons from the tool kit include:
- Creativity and flexibility were essential to an intervention’s success. Asthma counselors made the intervention work. Intervention counseling and education sessions were better attended when they could be conducted at times when families and children were most often available to participate; after normal work hours, school half-days and weekends.
- An intervention should be tailored to the specific needs and history of the child and family. Different people process information at different rates and in some circumstances the project accomplished its goals in less than the 12 month period required in the contract.
- A close professional relationship between the asthma counselor and project manager is important. It has the potential to multiply the effectiveness of the intervention and create a supportive work environment.
- Communication that leads to buy-in within the implementing organization and all parts of the community should be done up front. Clear understanding of the project and acceptance on the part of physicians and others who come into contact with the project is important.
- Incentives may make a difference in children and families’ ability to stick with the intervention until completion. Inner-city families may face significant challenges, such as lack of time, monetary resources or the inability to travel to the intervention site.
The ACHP tool kit is a starting point for organizations that want to develop or enhance efforts to educate and empower families to better manage their child’s asthma. Organizations serving an indigent, urban population that could benefit from implementing a childhood asthma management program include health plans and other managed care organizations, hospitals, outpatient clinics and community health centers.
The tool kit is based on an inner-city experience but can also be useful for asthma management programs in other locations and for other populations.
ACHP is a leadership organization that brings together innovative health plans and provider organizations that are among America’s best at delivering affordable, high-quality coverage and care to their communities. Drawing on years of experience, members collaborate to identify problems, share information and work toward solutions to some of health care’s biggest challenges. Their work is the foundation for ACHP’s advocacy on behalf of better health care nationally. More information is available at www.achp.org.