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A pilot program in Northern Adelaide has successfully assisted patients
gain better control of their asthma through a pharmacy referral program.
Participants for the Asthma Pharmacy
Referral Pathway program (APRP) pilot
were recruited from three priority
regions with high levels of disadvantage
and high levels of asthma and chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The three regions were responsible
for 25% of asthma hospitalisations.
The program’s overall aim was to
identify those most at risk of poor
Speaking at the Australasian Asthma
Conference, Asthma Educator from
Asthma Foundation South Australia,
Sophie Tiley (pictured), said, ‘Pharmacies
were keen to take part, they wanted to
provide better quality care for patients.’
When dispensing asthma medication,
pharmacists offered patients the
opportunity to receive telephone
support from trained asthma educators.
In order to refer patients, pharmacists
were required to ask questions about
asthma control before passing on details
to the asthma foundation for follow up.
The pilot involved eight pharmacies
, which made 165 referrals from
the priority regions. The support
provided by Asthma SA consisted
of an initial education session over
the phone followed by calls at one
month and 12 months to measure
The Asthma Score tool was used to
measure participants’ asthma control.
• At baseline, the average score
was 15 out of 25 – indicating poor
• At one month, the average score
was 18 out of 25 – indicating some
• At 12 months, the average score
was 21 out of 25 indicating good
Overall the program improved patient
quality of life, with participants saying
they could breathe better and could
participate in daily activities more easily.
Hospitalisations were also significantly
reduced for program participants when
followed up at 12 months.
CEO of Asthma Australia, Mark Brooke,
said he hoped a wider roll out of the
program would be possible.
‘ The success of the program is clear and
we are really pleased with the support
and enthusiasm of the pharmacies who
took part. The program is a cost effective
model to identify those most at risk and
prevent them from falling through the
cracks. This approach has the potential
to dramatically reduce costs for the
individual and healthcare system,’ he said.
Pharmacists also saw the program’s
value, with all those who took part
saying they believed the program
helped to target high risk patients with
asthma and improved their overall
quality of asthma care.
The APRP was an initiative of the
Northern Respiratory Partnership Project
(NRPP) funded by the Commonwealth
Department of Health and Ageing,
driven by the Northern Adelaide Medical
Uncontrolled asthma levels
A million Australian people with asthma
live with wheezing, breathlessness and
flare-ups despite the availability of
effective preventer inhalers, Australia’s
first nationally representative study on
asthma control has found.
The AirSupply study, led by a
collaboration of researchers and survey
experts, has unveiled four groups of
people with asthma, and shows that
25% have uncontrolled asthma and use
preventive medication infrequently or
never. A further 20% have uncontrolled
symptoms despite regularly using their
medication, possibly due to incorrect
The remaining two groups are those who
have well-controlled asthma without
regular medication (40%) and those
who control it well with preventer
Woolcock Institute researcher and lead
author of the study published in the
Medical Journal of Australia, Helen Reddel,
said: ‘We’ve been able to paint for the
first time a clear picture of asthma
control overall and the results are
‘We found that almost half of Australians
with asthma (45%) have more symptoms
than they need to put up with. Apart from
the unnecessary burden on their life,
this flags them as being at higher risk of
dangerous asthma flare-ups.’
There were also substantial problems
with the prescribing and use of
‘Put these things together and it becomes
clear that a substantial part of Australia’s
problem with asthma symptoms
and flare-ups may be preventable,’
Prof Reddel said.
The web-based study questioned
2,686 adults with asthma in detail about
their condition and how they manage it.
Participants were recruited from an online
panel of almost a quarter of a million
Australians to ensure the inclusion of a
broad range of people.
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