International guidelines establish evidence-based standards for asthma care; however, recommendations are often not implemented and many patients do not meet control targets.
Regional pilot data demonstrated a knowledge-to-practice gap.
Choice of solutions
We engineered health system change in a multi-step approach described by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research knowledge translation framework.
Knowledge translation occurred at multiple levels: patient, practice and local health system. A regional administrative infrastructure and inter-disciplinary care teams were developed. The key project deliverable was a guideline-based interdisciplinary asthma management program. Six community organizations, 33 primary care physicians and 519 patients participated. The program operating cost was $290/patient.
Six guideline-based care elements were implemented, including spirometry measurement, asthma controller therapy, a written self-management action plan and general asthma education, including the inhaler device technique, role of medications and environmental control strategies in 93, 95, 86, 100, 97 and 87% of patients, respectively. Of the total patients 66% were adults, 61% were female, the mean age was 35.7 (SD = ±24.2) years. At baseline 42% had two or more symptoms beyond acceptable limits vs. 17% (P< 0.001) post-intervention; 71% reported urgent/emergent healthcare visits at baseline (2.94 visits/year) vs. 45% (1.45 visits/year) (P< 0.001); 39% reported absenteeism (5.0 days/year) vs. 19% (3.0 days/year) (P< 0.001). The mean follow-up interval was 22 (SD = ±7) months.
A knowledge-translation framework can guide multi-level organizational change, facilitate asthma guideline implementation, and improve health outcomes in community primary care practices. Program costs are similar to those of diabetes programs. Program savings offset costs in a ratio of 2.1:1