Introduction: Widespread misuse of short-acting beta-agonists (SABAs) may contribute to asthma-related morbidity and mortality. Recognizing this, the Global Initiative for Asthma neither recommends SABA monotherapy nor regards this formulation as a preferred reliever. Many health systems and healthcare professionals (HCPs) experience practical issues in implementing guidelines. Clear quality standards can drive improvements in asthma care and encourage implementation of global and national medical guidelines.
Methods: A steering group of global asthma experts came together between May and September 2019 to develop quality statements codifying the minimum elements of good quality asthma care. These statements were either evidence based (when robust evidence was available) or reflected a consensus based on clinical expertise and experience of the group.
Results: The quality statements (and associated essential criteria) developed emphasize key elements concerning (1) objective diagnosis specific to individual symptoms, (2) treatment appropriate to the long-term management of asthma as an inflammatory disease, consistent with evidence-based recommendations, (3) controlled dispensing of SABA canisters and monitoring to prevent overuse, (4) regular review of patients after treatment initiation or change, and (5) follow-up of patients in primary care after treatment for an exacerbation in a hospital or an emergency department.
Conclusions: The steering group proposes quality statements that national and local clinical groups can implement as quantitative quality standards that are appropriate to their local circumstances, including during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. By translating these statements into locally relevant quality standards, primary care physicians and HCPs can encourage optimal management and reduce preventable healthcare interactions. The evidence-based evolution of care encapsulated in these statements will further engender high-quality, patient-centered holistic management that addresses asthma as an inflammatory disease. In particular, the statements empower self-management by patients and encourage health-promoting behaviors, which are essential to reduce exacerbations, the primary goal of asthma management.
Keywords: Asthma; Covid-19; Quality standards; Short-acting beta-agonists.