Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 27, 2013

2 spots remain open in childhood asthma program

Program hopes to reduce attacks and hospital visits

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — Wanted: Two local children dealing with asthma.

Holly West of Eastern Kentucky Public Health Inc. said 98 of 100 children with asthma have been identified in Boyd, Floyd, Greenup, Lawrence and Pike counties for a collaborative asthma study. She hopes to find two more to complete the roster.

“We are looking for kids who have moderate to severe asthma,” said West, explaining the program requires 50 of the children to be WellCare recipients. West said each participant will receive a free iPod Touch, loaded with the Abriiz application for asthma monitoring.

“Fifty of them did not have to have WellCare so they were easy to find,” West said, explaining EKPHI worked with school nurses and other officials to identify qualified participants. Because of confidentiality rules and other concerns, a couple of spaces remain unfilled.

“This is meant to be a tool that is self-management for asthma,” West said, explaining participants enter data about their medications and are given reminders to take their medications, as well as recording information about the time and location of asthma attacks. A secure connection to the parent company provides weekly analysis and evaluation.

West said the high-tech tool will be tested through December and then evaluated to determine if it helped reduce things such as asthma attacks and hospital visits, or decreased absenteeism. Asthma is the most common chronic illness among children and youth in the United States and is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization among those younger than 15. Kentucky has the highest rate of lung disease in the country, including childhood asthma, with the highest rates in eastern Kentucky.

WellCare is partnering with EKPHI, an organization of eight local health departments in the Appalachian region of Kentucky, to conduct the pediatric asthma study. The pilot program utilizes Ideomed’s new Abriiz asthma management technology, along with an educational component to help children enrolled in WellCare’s Asthma Disease Management Program. The asthma pilot will establish initial effectiveness data and information measures with the goal of increasing medication compliance and reducing asthma-related emergency room visits.

“We welcome the opportunity to partner with WellCare to meet the needs of our students and their families. For students to be at their academic best, they need to remain healthy,” said Geri Willis, president of the EKPHI board. “The WellCare and Abriiz program will offer services and incentives for participating students with the potential of helping them remain more in control of their asthma triggers and symptoms, while lessening the likelihood of associated hospitalizations and absences from school.”

The asthma pilot will be administered through a school health program designed to coordinate family, school and community efforts to better manage asthma symptoms, while reducing school absences and emergency room visits. The Abriiz asthma management technology provides a web-based system for the caregiver and/or school nurse and a mobile application for the student. The system tracks daily medication use, rescue medication use, asthma triggers prior to escalation and ER visits. WellCare will also provide claims-based data.

 West said parents of children between 6 and 17 who have moderate to severe asthma are encouraged to call her at (606) 329-9444, ext. 2223 to determine if they qualify for the program.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.