For 36 years, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has declared May to be "National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month." During the peak season for people with asthma and allergies, this month is nationally recognized to bring awareness and educate patients, family, friends and others about these conditions.
In the past, Virginia Health Information has worked with the RVA Childhood Asthma Collaborative in their efforts to better understand and improve the state of childhood asthma across the Richmond region of Virginia. By providing data on emergency department visits and inpatient admissions amongst Medicaid-enrolled children with asthma, VHI has helped the collaborative understand the status quo across the Richmond region and set goals to move closer towards the state median. This month, we celebrate Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month by learning about the goals and discoveries of the RVA Childhood Asthma Collaborative. VHI spoke with Joshua Ogburn, Project Director of the collaborative, for a closer look.
How did the collaborative get started?
Several years ago, leaders from Bon Secours Richmond Health System, HCA Virginia Health System, VCU Health System, and the Richmond City Health Department founded RVA Childhood Asthma Collaborative to align and enhance numerous ongoing childhood asthma efforts across the Richmond region.
What are the collaborative's goals?
What does childhood asthma currently look like in Richmond and in Virginia?
Virginia has about an average asthma severity rate compared to other states. However, it varies significant across the state. Both the City of Richmond and the City of Norfolk have extraordinarily high rates of asthma-related emergency department (ED) visits per capita, which are almost three times the state median. Interestingly, Fairfax County has about the same number of ED visits total but the rate per capita is about the state median.
While medical care is critical to achieve effective asthma management, the collaborative has found that social factors play a large role, as well. That is why we have focused on expanding community health workers (CHW), which are trained public health workers who serve as a bridge between communities, healthcare systems and health departments. In the asthma context, CHW's meet families in the community, provide an asthma education curriculum and can assist with any social or lifestyle issues that make it difficult to manage asthma.
Virginia Health Information (VHI) has been a critical partner throughout the collaborative's efforts. VHI's ability to provide data and information across the healthcare providers and payers is truly what sets it apart. In addition, VHI's customer service mindset is truly fantastic.
What are the collaborative's future goals?
In the future, we would like to further collaborate with outpatient physicians across the region who are seeing the greatest numbers of children with asthma. The collaborative looks forward to continuing our work with state and local leaders to improve outcomes for children with asthma. We will continue to rely on data and information VHI can provide to ensure we focus on efforts on areas of greatest need and make decisions informed by up-to-date evidence and data.
For more information on the RVA Childhood Asthma Collaborative, visit www.rvakidsasthma.org
Stay healthy, Virginia!