Partnering Payers and Providers Improves Pediatric Asthma Outcomes

APRIL 5, 2022

Berlin, Vermont—The peer-reviewed article “Partnering to Improve Pediatric Asthma Quality” was published in the April volume of the journal Academic Pediatrics. The article was authored by three pediatricians including Dr. Michael Cabana, professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and member of the United States Preventive Services Task Force, Dr. Keith Robinson of the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Josh Plavin, the Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont. 

Childhood asthma is often managed in an office setting, but when they are in a crisis, kids head to an emergency room. All too often, there is a disconnect between the treatment in the hospital and the management of care over the long term. As shown in a randomized study of 937 children, with careful coordination and management there was shown to be a 24% drop in emergency department visits and an increase in the timeliness of the administration of prescriptions. What became clear is that the more contact the primary care office has with the asthma patient, the better the outcomes.    

“It is terrifying to a parent to watch their child struggle to breathe,” says Dr. Plavin of Blue Cross. “This potentially debilitating chronic condition can be managed with careful support from a broad team of providers, the patient and family, and the family’s health plan. If diverse players can work together, these kids can live normal, healthy lives.” 

Health plans have an opportunity to support this continuity of care through the timely sharing of actionable data and feedback on the adherence of quality measures. This data collaboration can reduce the occurrence of emergencies by enabling providers to work more closely with high-risk children and their families “by leveraging asthma education, community health workers, access to specialists and assistance with prescriptions,” the authors note. Partnerships and community coalitions supported by health plan information can bridge the gaps in the health care system with positive results. 

This is not only beneficial to the individual, but it has population health implications as well. The article notes, “On a broader scale, partnerships involving public health departments, health care delivery systems, health plans and advocacy groups can also help address social determinants of health and improve asthma outcomes. Improving outcomes for children with asthma will require a systems-approach, with health care delivery viewed holistically and broadly.”