Introduction of Asthma APGAR tools improve asthma management in primary care practices

J Asthma Allergy. 2008 Aug 31;1:1-10. doi: 10.2147/jaa.s3595.

Abstract

Objective: Primary care asthma management is often not compatible with national evidence-based guidelines. The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility and impact of the Asthma APGAR tools to enhance implementation of asthma guideline-compatible management in primary care practices.

Subjects: Twenty-four primary care practices across the US.

Methods: This is a mixed methods study. Quantitative data were used to assess changes in guideline recommended asthma management including use of daily controller therapy, planned care visits, and education and information documentation before and after implementation of the Asthma APGAR. Qualitative data from focus group sessions were used to assess health care professional and patient perceived usability and value of the Asthma APGAR tools during office visits for asthma.

Results: Implementing the Asthma APGAR tools in the 24 practices was associated with enhanced asthma visit-related medical record documentation including significant increases in recording of activity limitations due to asthma and asthma symptom frequency, asthma medication nonadherence, asthma triggers, and the patients' perceived response to therapy (p < 0.01 for each item). Some care processes also increased significantly including assessment of inhaler technique and prescribing of daily controller therapy among patients with persistent asthma. Focus groups of patients and of clinical staff reported that the Asthma APGAR tools were easy to use, "made sense" and "improved care" was given and received.

Conclusions: The Asthma APGAR tools are feasible to implement in primary care practices and their implementation is associated with increased guideline-compliant asthma management.