Reducing emergency department visits utilizing a primary care asthma specialty clinic in a high-risk patient population

J Asthma. 2018 Jul;55(7):785-794. doi: 10.1080/02770903.2017.1369989. Epub 2017 Oct 17.


Objective: Asthma is a leading cause of pediatric emergency department (ED) use. Optimizing asthma outcomes is a goal of Nationwide Children's Hospital (NCH) and its affiliated Accountable Care Organization. NCH's Primary Care Network, comprised of 12 offices serving a predominantly Medicaid population, sought to determine whether an Asthma Specialty Clinic (ASC) operated within a single primary care office could reduce ED asthma rates and improve quality measures, relative to all other network offices.

Methods: An ASC was piloted with four components: patient monitoring, provider continuity, standardized assessment, and multi-disciplinary education. A registry was established to contact patients at recommended intervals. At extended-length visits, a general pediatrician evaluated patients and a multi-disciplinary team provided education. Novel educational tools were utilized, guideline-based templates recorded and spirometry obtained. ED asthma rate, spirometry utilization, and controller fills by intervention office patients were compared to all other network offices before and after ASC initiation.

Results: At baseline, asthma ED visits by intervention and usual care populations were similar (p = 0.43). After, rates were significantly lower for intervention office patients versus usual care office patients (p < 0.001), declining in the intervention population by 26.2%, 25.2%, and 31.8% in 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively, from 2012 baseline, versus increases of 3.8%, 16.2%, and 9.5% in the usual care population. Spirometry completion, controller fills, and patients with favorable Asthma Medication Ratios significantly increased for intervention office patient relative to the usual care population.

Conclusions: A primary care-based asthma clinic was associated with a significant and sustainable reduction in ED utilization versus usual care. What's new: This study describes a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, and innovative model for an asthma management program within the medical home that demonstrated a significant reduction in ED visits, an increase in spirometry utilization, and an increase in controller fills in a high-risk asthma population versus comparison group.

Keywords: ACO; Asthma; pediatrics; population health.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / organization & administration*
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / statistics & numerical data
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicaid
  • Ohio
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration
  • Patient-Centered Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Pilot Projects
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • United States