Evaluating the impact of an integrated computer-based decision support with person-centered analytics for the management of asthma in primary care: a randomized controlled trial

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2015 Jul;22(4):773-83. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocu009. Epub 2015 Feb 10.


Background: Computer-based decision support has been effective in providing alerts for preventive care. Our objective was to determine whether a personalized asthma management computer-based decision support increases the quality of asthma management and reduces the rate of out-of-control episodes.

Methods: A cluster-randomized trial was conducted in Quebec, Canada among 81 primary care physicians and 4447 of their asthmatic patients. Patients were followed from the first visit for 3-33 months. The physician control group used the Medical Office of the 21st century (MOXXI) system, an integrated electronic health record. A custom-developed asthma decision support system was integrated within MOXXI and was activated for physicians in the intervention group.

Results: At the first visit, 9.8% (intervention) to 12.9% (control) of patients had out-of-control asthma, which was defined as a patient having had an emergency room visit or hospitalization for respiratory-related problems and/or more than 250 doses of fast-acting β-agonist (FABA) dispensed in the past 3 months. By the end of the trial, there was a significant increase in the ratio of doses of inhaled corticosteroid use to fast-acting β-agonist (0.93 vs. 0.69: difference: 0.27; 95% CI: 0.02-0.51; P = 0.03) in the intervention group. The overall out-of-control asthma rate was 54.7 (control) and 46.2 (intervention) per 100 patients per year (100 PY), a non-significant rate difference of -8.7 (95% CI: -24.7, 7.3; P = 0.29). The intervention's effect was greater for patients with out-of-control asthma at the beginning of the study, a group who accounted for 44.7% of the 5597 out-of-control asthma events during follow-up, as there was a reduction in the event rate of -28.4 per 100 PY (95% CI: -55.6, -1.2; P = 0.04) compared to patients with in-control asthma at the beginning of the study (-0.08 [95% CI: -10.3, 8.6; P = 0.86]).

Discussion: This study evaluated the effectiveness of a novel computer-assisted ADS system that facilitates systematic monitoring of asthma control status, follow-up of patients with out of control asthma, and evidence-based, patient-specific treatment recommendations. We found that physicians were more likely to use ADS for out-of-control patients, that in the majority of these patients, they were advised to add an inhaled corticosteroid or a leukotriene inhibitor to the patient s treatment regimen, and the intervention significantly increased the mean ratio of inhaled corticosteroids to FABA during follow-up. It also reduced the rate of out-of-control episodes during follow up among patients whose asthma was out-of-control at the time of study entry. Future research should assess whether coupling patient-specific treatment recommendations, automated follow-up, and home care with comparative feedback on quality and outcomes of care can improve guideline adoption and care outcomes.

Conclusions: A primary care-personalized asthma management system reduced the rate of out-of-control asthma episodes among patients whose asthma was poorly controlled at the study's onset.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00170248.

Keywords: MOXXI; RCT; asthma; computer decision support; out-of-control; personalized medicine.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Decision Making, Computer-Assisted*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physicians, Primary Care
  • Precision Medicine
  • Primary Health Care
  • Single-Blind Method
  • User-Computer Interface

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00170248