Taking on Asthma Program Helps Oklahoma Children

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma’s (BCBSOK) signature community investment program, Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® (HKHF), works to improve community health by addressing some of the most pressing health issues in communities across the state. We are uniquely positioned to identify important health issues by using the claims data of our large membership.

We identified childhood asthma as one area of opportunity where we could make a big difference. 

So we reached out to the American Lung Association of Oklahoma to talk about what we could do together. In 2012, we joined together to launch the Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma project, an effort to help improve asthma care for high-risk children.  

To get started, we used our claims data to identify communities with the greatest need. Using this information, we identified the health care providers that are serving large groups of high-risk patients with asthma. We're able to be focused in our outreach by providing training and resources to the health care providers who need it most. 

We were able to find and recruit  primary care clinics and federally qualified health centers to join the project. The project uses a National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute training program, the National Asthma Education Prevention Program.  

Clinic staff are trained in all aspects of asthma management, from proper diagnosis to daily asthma management. The clinics were also given educational materials for young patients and their caregivers to improve understanding of what asthma is, explain how to avoid triggers, and show them how to take medication properly.  

Our efforts are paying off. We can now go back to our data and track outcomes for kids from these clinics to see if we’re making a difference. We are able to show that children in the program have fewer emergency department visits and hospital stays due to asthma attacks, and that they are missing less school.

Originally a three-year program, we are extending it through 2017 based on these successes. Further, we are expanding the training program to 10 more clinics in other Oklahoma communities. We will also add an “in-home evaluation” component where the American Lung Association of Oklahoma will offer to have an asthma educator visit homes of children who still have poorly controlled asthma. This helps identify allergens and irritants in homes that may trigger asthma. 

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