In the News

Second Program Receives the AARC’s ASME Certification

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November 4, 2010

In February of 2009, the AARC launched an Asthma Self Management Education (ASME) certification program aimed at helping respiratory therapists take advantage of CPT codes that can now be used to bill third party payers for asthma self-management education by non-physician health care professionals operating a program that is certified by a professional organization.

That was perfect timing, as far as Mike Shoemaker, RRT-NPS, AE-C, and his colleagues at AnMed Health Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Anderson, SC, were concerned. They had been working on an outpatient asthma education program for pediatric patients in their community throughout 2008 and had just opened their doors in January of 2009.

Pulmonary Function Technologist Paige Warren, RRT, CPFT, performs spirometry on six-year-old Caroline during her visit to the Asthmania Academy.

“It just so happened that many of the standards that were important to the AARC were also important to Asthmania Academy and to AnMed Health,” says the AARC member. “We both were focused on doing what is right for people with asthma.”

Shoemaker and his group decided to apply for the certification and Asthmania Academy has now become the second program in the nation (The AH! Asthma Health Program in Portland, ME, was the first) to receive it.

So, what does an ASME certificated program look like? The Asthmania Academy receives referrals from both the hospital and local physicians, and staff includes RRTs with the AE-C credential, plus an RRT who is also a CPFT, all of whom work closely with physicians to provide a comprehensive program.

Shoemaker and his colleagues use this graphic to illustrate the fact that the Asthmania Academy is both based on national asthma guidelines and certified by the AARC’s ASME certification program.

Kids come to the clinic for a 1.5–2 hour appointment during which time they undergo diagnostic testing and receive in depth asthma education. Each child and family also receives an asthma action plan plus an assessment of goals and how to reach them.

“Every patient leaves with email/phone contact information to reach an asthma educator, and the patient’s primary care provider always gets a report that includes an assessment of asthma severity or control, spirometry results, and EPR-3 Guideline-based recommendations for the patient,” says Shoemaker.

He and his colleagues are tracking outcomes too, looking specifically at pediatric ED and minor care visits, hospitalization rates, and length of stay for patients who are hospitalized. Since the Asthmania Academy went into operation, pediatric ED visits and visits to the minor care facility have declined, and benchmarking data indicates a downward trend in the hospitalization rate for pediatric asthma compared to all admissions.

Length of stay also looks favorable. The range for average LOS during the reporting period for 2009 was 1.0–3.37 days at the benchmark facilities. AnMed Health’s average LOS for pediatric asthma was 1.77.

Shoemaker and his colleagues believe their ASME certification will help their program improve even further on these outcomes by making it easier to partner with physicians in the community, and it will also assist with third party reimbursement as more and more payers recognize the costs that can be saved by educating people in proper asthma management.

“In a program like Asthmania Academy, where there is a big focus on partnering with physicians in the community to share the task of providing guideline-based care, ASME certification lends credibility,” he says.

As for reimbursement, Shoemaker says it’s only a matter of time before payers realize the benefits to be had from a program like his. “It is clear that payers—public or private—are spending an outrageous amount of money paying for their clients to visit the ED or to be hospitalized for asthma. It is a worthwhile investment if they can spend a little to have someone help the patient truly gain control of their asthma.”