Background: Emergency department (ED) visits for asthma may reflect poor asthma control, often due to insufficient asthma education and medical follow-up. However, few patients consulting an ED for asthma are referred for education.
Aims: To describe a model for automatic referral to educational interventions targeting patients consulting at the ED for acute asthma, to demonstrate how this model can be integrated into current care, and to increase referrals for asthma education.
Methods: The program combines a short ED-based educational intervention with the goal of motivating patients and their families to pursue an educational program with an automatic referral to an asthma education center (AEC) after agreement with ED physicians. The program was implemented in nine acute care centers with a high number of ED visits for asthma. The main study parameter was the number of patients referred to an AEC after 4 months of program implementation, as compared with 4 months before. In addition, we assessed potential barriers to successfully establishing the program.
Results: In the first 4 months of the program, 1,104 patients were referred to an AEC, compared with 110 for the same period the year before; 106 patients (15%) patients could not be contacted, 114 patients (16.1%) refused the intervention, 488 patients (68.9%) made appointments, and 346 patients (48.9%, or 72.8% of scheduled patients) honored their appointments.
Conclusion: We describe a model of educational intervention for asthmatic patients consulting at the ED. We found that ED professionals can motivate patients to attend an asthma education program and that an automatic referral process is well accepted by ED staff. Such intervention can help to reduce asthma-related morbidity, but local barriers to implementation of such program should be addressed.