A Tool to Help Better Control Childhood Asthma

A health care provider assists an elementary aged child with a breathing treatment

Some 47,000 children have asthma in the Ohio regions served by Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Dayton Children’s Hospital. As many as 4,000 of them have asthma that is poorly controlled, so they are at higher risk for emergency department visits or hospitalization.

But pediatricians and other primary care providers can’t always tell who those children are. Now, a new tool from Partners For Kids is helping providers better predict who could end up in the emergency department.

Partners For Kids is a partnership among Nationwide Children’s, Dayton Children’s and other care providers that is responsible for the health of more than 470,000 covered by Medicaid managed care plans across 47 Ohio counties. It’s the oldest and largest organization of its kind in the United States.

In May 2022, Partners For Kids launched a provider dashboard that makes certain Medicaid claims data available to primary care practices seeing Partners For Kids patients. The data shows providers which asthma patients are at risk for future emergency care through factors like poor adherence to everyday medication, overusing a rescue medication or past emergency department visits.

“The providers may not have all that information readily available,” said Kelin Wheaton, PharmD, PhD, Population Health Clinical Pharmacist at Partners For Kids. “We identify what in our claims is most relevant when they're seeing that patient and thinking through interventions.”

Patterns in the data can help providers consider what is contributing to their patients’ emergency department use and how to respond with appropriate preventive measures. Partners For Kids uses quality improvement approaches to guide practices through ways they can use the dashboard and develop asthma management interventions, like using Nationwide Children’s patient-friendly education tools or ensuring patients receive an asthma action plan at each office visit.

The dashboard echoes Partners For Kids’ model of value-based care of keeping children healthy through high-quality preventative care in order to better serve children who require higher levels of care, improving health outcomes for all children.

Helping children ensure their asthma is under control increases the quality of life for the child and reduces stress on the family. At a population level, identifying patients that may have poorly controlled asthma is just one of the many tools available to Partners For Kids practices. Beyond that, Partners For Kids takes a comprehensive approach to help a practice keep its patients healthy and reduce the likelihood of asthma-related emergency department use.

Partners For Kids’ predictive risk model is a collaboration with Nationwide Children's team of data scientists, which used historical Medicaid claims information for Partners For Kids’ asthma patients over the last twelve years to predict which patients are most likely to have an emergency visit in the next twelve months.

“We're able to do this because of the innovation of our data team,” said Dr. Wheaton. “These platforms are cutting edge, allowing us to share the most current data with providers on demand so they know how to best care for the high-risk patients in their office.”