Patients with chronic lung diseases like COPD and asthma need to make regular visits to their physicians’ offices to maintain control of their conditions. But getting patients to show up for these visits can be a challenge.
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, at Fresno finds just one visit by a home team can make a big difference in restoring patient compliance with physician office visits. In this case, the team included both a respiratory therapist and a nurse practitioner.
The investigators presented their study at CHEST 2016 last month, and lead author Vipul Jain, MD, spoke with AARC Executive Director Tom Kallstrom, MBA, RRT, FAARC, after the presentation, emphasizing the importance of tapping into clinicians like RTs to make initiatives like this viable.
“One of the interventions we do is the home visit, and yes, RTs and the NP were the critical part of the home-visit team,” he said. “I think it’s high time that MDs realize that they can’t win this alone.”
Dr. Jain and his colleagues looked at patients who had taken part in an earlier study on their integrative disease management program for patients with COPD and severe asthma. Twenty-four patients who had missed three or more doctor office visits received a home visit aimed at encouraging them to go to their doctors’ appointments. During the visit, patients were assessed for their conditions and tested with portable spirometry.
A comparison of outcomes between the year following the intervention and the year prior to the intervention revealed a significant increase in completed doctor’s appointments, 133 vs. 68. Emergency department visits dropped from 52 to 31 and patients were more likely to adhere to their maintenance inhaler prescriptions as well, 65% vs. 22%. No change, however, was seen in hospital admissions.