Community-based care coordination: Practical applications for childhood asthma
Care coordination programs have been used to address chronic illnesses, including childhood asthma, but primarily via practice-based models. An alternative approach employs community-based care coordinators who bridge gaps between families, health care providers, and support services. Merck Childhood Asthma Network, Inc. (MCAN) sites developed community-based care coordination approaches for childhood asthma. Using a community-based care coordination logic model, programs at each site are described along with program operational statistics. Four sites used three to four community health workers (CHWs) to provide care coordination, whereas one site used five school-based asthma nurses. This school-based site had the highest caseload (82.5 per year), but program duration was 3 months with 4 calls or visits. Other sites averaged fewer cases (35 to 61 per CHW per year), but families received more (7 to 17) calls or visits over a year. Retention was 43% to 93% at 6 months and 24% to 75% at 12 months. Pre–post cross-site data document changes in asthma management behaviors and outcomes. After program participation, 93% to 100% of caregivers had confidence in controlling their child’s asthma, 85% to 92% had taken steps to reduce triggers, 69% to 100% had obtained an asthma action plan, and 46% to 100% of those with moderate to severe asthma reported appropriate use of controller medication. Emergency department visits for asthma decreased by 36% to 63%, and asthma-related hospitalizations declined by 26% to 78%. More than three fourths had fewer school absences. In conclusion, MCAN community-based care coordination programs improved management behaviors and decreased morbidity across all sites.