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Children with asthma have more prescriptions filled when their health plans notify their doctors after a serious episode
Asthma is the most common chronic condition for children. Effective treatments, such as steroid inhalers, can help control it. When managed care programs inform health care providers that a child has had a serious asthmatic episode, providers tend to take action by writing prescriptions for asthma drugs to prevent these episodes, a new study finds.
William O. Cooper, M.D., M.P.H., and Wayne A. Ray, Ph.D., of Vanderbilt University and colleagues surveyed 18 Medicaid managed care plans that served 4,498 children with moderate to severe asthma in Tennessee and Washington. These children visited the emergency department (ED), were hospitalized, or refilled two or more prescriptions for their asthma between 2000 and 2002. Of the 18 managed care plans, 15 provided written feedback to providers on asthma care.
Twelve offered the number of patients with asthma in the provider's care, 12 gave information on medication prescribing, and 13 presented data on asthma urgent care events. Eleven plans alerted the provider when a child visited the ED or was hospitalized. Communicating this information led to boosts in filling prescriptions for asthma prevention medications, the authors found.
Children whose plans offered feedback and notifications had the highest mean days of filling their prescriptions during the 1-year follow-up period. However, children whose plans did not communicate with providers had the lowest mean days for filling prescriptions medications. The authors suggest that health plan communication with providers may be useful in managing other chronic health conditions. This study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13076 and HS10384).
See "Health plan notification and feedback to providers is associated with increased filling of preventer medications for children with asthma enrolled in Medicaid," by Dr. Cooper, Dr. Ray, Patrick G. Arbogast, Ph.D., and others in the April 2008 Journal of Pediatrics 152(4), pp. 481-488.
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