Background: Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children in Germany. Approaches to reduce the burden of asthma include patient education to improve self-management skills.
Study objectives: We determined whether a continuous Internet-based education program (IEP) as an add-on to a standardized patient management program (SPMP) improves health outcomes of asthma patients at a favorable benefit-cost ratio.
Patients and methods: A total of 438 asthmatic patients aged 8 to 16 years in 36 study centers were enrolled during a 6-month period. We performed a prospective cost-benefit analysis alongside a nonrandomized trial. At baseline and at 6 months and 12 months, health service utilization data were collected.
Interventions: Study participants were assigned to a control group and two intervention groups. Patients in both intervention groups participated in an SPMP. Additionally, patients in one intervention group received the IEP.
Results: Utilization of various health-care services decreased significantly in both intervention groups. From a payer perspective, the benefit-cost ratio of the traditional education program was 0.55. Adding the IEP improved the ratio (0.79). For patients with moderate or severe asthma, the benefit-cost ratios were 1.07 and 1.42 (with IEP), respectively.
Conclusions: The IEP offers the potential to decrease the burden of disease and to realize incremental morbidity cost savings. Subgroup analysis demonstrated that within 1 year, the savings exceed the intervention costs in patients with moderate or severe asthma.