Nav: Home

Electronic tool has potential to improve asthma care, study finds

February 14, 2019

TORONTO, ONTARIO, February 14, 2019 - A new electronic decision support tool for managing asthma has the potential to improve the quality of asthma care in primary care settings, suggests a study led by St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

The research, published today in the European Respiratory Journal, aimed to determine whether the Electronic Asthma Management System (eAMS) could help close existing gaps in asthma care. The system is a first-of-its-kind evidence-based computerized decision support tool.

"We have excellent therapies for this disease, yet most patients do not receive the best care, and as a result, are poorly controlled," said Dr. Samir Gupta, an associate scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital, who led this study. "There are many barriers facing busy primary care physicians in providing the best care, including lack of time, knowledge, training, and local resources. We sought to try to overcome these barriers by leveraging the power of technology."

Dr. Gupta and his team followed 23 physicians for two years across three large family health teams, assessing care provided to 1,272 unique patients with asthma. The study analyzed baseline care for one year, then integrated the eAMS into the practices and monitored care for another year to identify changes in the quality of care. The evaluation of an electronic tool builds on recent research led by Dr. Gupta that found that significant gaps persist in asthma care in these areas across the province.

With the eAMS, asthma control assessment increased from 14 per cent to 59 per cent of patients. The tool also increased the proportion of patients who received an asthma action plan from 0 to 18 per cent. This is a self-management tool that lets patients know how to adjust their medications in case their asthma flares up. Asthma control assessment and action plans have been key recommendations in asthma care guidelines for more than 20 years.

"Our research demonstrates that a carefully designed eHealth tool can effectively be used in busy primary care settings, and can improve asthma care," said Courtney Price, who was a summer student at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute while the analysis was completed. "This is especially important as asthma affects 339 million people globally, is one of the most common chronic diseases in Canada, and is continuing to increase in both prevalence and cost."

The decision support tool consists of:

  1. An electronic questionnaire which patients typically complete on a tablet device in the physician waiting room (providing information about their asthma);

  2. An automated, computerized decision support system which then processes these data to instantly produce a set of asthma care recommendations and presents these to the clinician upon opening the patient's electronic chart; and

  3. A printable asthma action plan that is auto-populated by the eAMS and given to patients by the clinician (an evidence-based tool which provides guidance on what patients should do if their asthma flares up).

Dr. Gupta and his team hope to provide access to the eAMS to all family physicians in Canada. Next steps will include integrating the system across the different electronic medical record systems in use across Canada, further studies to show its impact on patient health, and adding additional features to the tool.

"In the future, we also hope to use the valuable lessons learned in this study to design similar tools for other chronic diseases," he said.
-end-
About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael's Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 29 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital's recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About Unity Health Toronto

Unity Health Toronto, comprised of Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph's Health Centre and St. Michael's Hospital, works to advance the health of everyone in our urban communities and beyond. Our health network serves patients, residents and clients across the full spectrum of care, spanning primary care, secondary community care, tertiary and quaternary care services to post-acute through rehabilitation, palliative care and long-term care, while investing in world-class research and education. For more information, visit http://www.unityhealth.to.

Media Contact

Ana Gajic
Senior Communications Advisor, Unity Health Toronto
416 864 5960
gajica@smh.ca

St. Michael's Hospital

Related Asthma Articles:

Insomnia prevalent in patients with asthma
A team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh has found that insomnia is highly prevalent in adults with asthma and is also associated with worse asthma control, depression and anxiety symptoms and other quality of life and health issues.
Test used to diagnose asthma may not be accurate
A new study urges caution in the use of the mannitol challenge test for asthma in non-clinical settings.
Turning off asthma attacks
Working with human immune cells in the laboratory, Johns Hopkins researchers report they have identified a critical cellular 'off' switch for the inflammatory immune response that contributes to lung-constricting asthma attacks.
Access to asthma meds, plus flu vaccines, keep kids with asthma healthy
Kids need flu shots to prevent asthma flares, and medications available in school to keep 86 percent in class, according to two studies being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting.
Discovery could lead to better asthma treatment
Scientists have made a discovery that could lead to improved treatment for asthma sufferers.
Do asthma and COPD truly exist?
Defining a patient's symptoms using the historical diagnostic labels of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an outdated approach to understanding an individual's condition, according to experts writing in the European Respiratory Journal today.
Asthma in many adolescents is not an allergic disease
New research indicates that asthma in many adolescents is not likely to involve inflammation of the airways and therefore should not be considered an allergic disease.
First classification of severe asthma
Severe asthma can have a devastating effect on sufferers, affecting their ability to work or go to school and to lead normal lives.
Exploring 'clinical conundrum' of asthma-COPD overlap in nonsmokers with chronic asthma
Researchers may be closer to finding the mechanism responsible for loss of lung elastic recoil and airflow limitation in nonsmokers with chronic asthma.
Asthma app helps control asthma: Alerts allergists when sufferers need assistance
New study in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows how an app directly connecting an allergist and an asthma sufferer can provide necessary intervention when asthma isn't under control.

Related Asthma Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Don't Fear Math
Why do many of us hate, even fear math? Why are we convinced we're bad at it? This hour, TED speakers explore the myths we tell ourselves and how changing our approach can unlock the beauty of math. Guests include budgeting specialist Phylecia Jones, mathematician and educator Dan Finkel, math teacher Eddie Woo, educator Masha Gershman, and radio personality and eternal math nerd Adam Spencer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#518 With Genetic Knowledge Comes the Need for Counselling
This week we delve into genetic testing - for yourself and your future children. We speak with Jane Tiller, lawyer and genetic counsellor, about genetic tests that are available to the public, and what to do with the results of these tests. And we talk with Noam Shomron, associate professor at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, about technological advancements his lab has made in the genetic testing of fetuses.