The findings of a new Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center study details methods through which pharmacies might form partnerships with physicians and families in an effort to reduce illnesses related to asthma.
The study results were published Monday 4. Further findings indicated pharmacies located in areas with higher rates of asthma-related emergency room visits and hospital stays actually filled a lower number of asthma control medications compared to asthma rescue medications.
"As on-the-ground members of the health-care team, community-based pharmacies and pharmacists are well-positioned for an increased role in population health management," Cincinnati Children's pediatrician and study lead author Andrew Beck said. "Tracking medication fills could highlight ways in which pharmacies could deliver proactive, as opposed to reactive, asthma care."
Previous studies have shown asthma-related illnesses are more common in areas of poverty or with minimal access to medical care. This is attributable to the fact that medications that can prevent and control asthma attacks are underused in these neighborhoods. The underuse can be traced to under-prescribing and limited availability as well as misuse by patients.
"We developed this asthma medication ratio to better understand disparities across our county and to potentially inform allocation of resources to those pharmacies and areas in most need of improvement," Beck said. "Pharmacies might aggressively provide medication delivery or counseling services, they could flag patients who refill a disproportionate number of rescue medications compared to controllers, or they could more regularly communicate with physicians regarding those patients who do not seem to be responding to current therapy. Our findings also support more active data-sharing between such integral members of the health care team."