Ten year trends in hospital encounters for pediatric asthma: an Indiana experience

J Asthma. 2021 Dec 7;1-10. doi: 10.1080/02770903.2021.2010750. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Pediatric asthma is a common cause of emergency department visits, hospital admissions, and mortality. Population incidence studies have historically used large-scale survey data. We measured these epidemiologic trends using a health information exchange.

Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, we used electronic health record data from a regional health information exchange to study clinical trends in pediatric patients presenting to the hospital for asthma in the State of Indiana. Data was obtained from 2010 to 2019 and included all patients ages 2-18 years. Study participants were identified using international classification of disease codes. The measured outcomes were number of hospital encounters per year, percentage of admissions per year, and mortality rates.

Results: Data included 50,393 unique patients and 88,772 unique encounters, with 57% male patients. Over the ten-year period, hospital encounters ranged from 5000 to 8000 per year with no change in trajectory. Between 2010 and 2012, the percent of encounters admitted to the hospital was ∼30%. This decreased to ∼20-25% for 2015-2019. Patient mortality rates increased from 1 to 3 per 1000 patient encounters in 2010-2014 to between 5 and 7 per 1000 patient encounters from 2016 to 2019. White patients had a significantly higher admission percentage compared to other racial groups, but no difference in mortality rate.

Conclusions: Asthma continues to be a common condition requiring hospital care for pediatric patients. Regional health information exchanges can enable public health researchers to follow asthma trends in near real time, and have potential for informing patient-level public health interventions.

Keywords: Electronic health records; epidemiology; health informatics; health outcomes; population health.