BCBSNM Takes on Childhood Asthma

The Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® (HKHF) initiative, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico (BCBSNM) signature community investment program, is designed to work within the communities we serve to improve community health. We are uniquely positioned to identify pressing health issues affecting people in our local communities, through access to our claims data for the many members we serve. We use the claims data to find patterns of high spending for common diseases, and then work within the community to impact change.

In 2012, we identified childhood asthma as one area of opportunity where we could make a big difference. 

Together with American Lung Association of New Mexico, we launched the Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma project, an effort to help improve asthma care for children in certain areas of the state.  

To get started, we used our claims data to identify areas of the state with the highest rate of emergency room visits and hospital stays by our young members because of their asthma. We also identified the health care providers that are serving large groups of high-risk patients with asthma. Armed with that information, we were able to target our outreach by providing training and resources to the primary care clinics and federally qualified health centers who need it most. 

The project uses a training program created by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Asthma Education Prevention Program.  

Clinic staff are trained in all aspects of asthma management, from proper diagnosis to daily asthma management. The clinics were also given educational materials for young patients and their caregivers to improve understanding of asthma, what triggers asthma conditions, and ways to control and treat it.

Our efforts are paying off. Almost three years later, we can go back to our data and track outcomes for kids from these clinics to see if we’re making a real difference in their health. The results are promising. Hospital stays and emergency department visits are both down by around 80 percent for members who participated in this project.  

Something that can’t be measured but matters just the same: parents say there are fewer missed school days, their kids are doing better in school, and they are able to join in school activities they couldn’t before. 

Originally a three-year program, we are extending it through 2017 based on these successes. Further, we are expanding the training program to 10 more New Mexico clinics. We will also add an “in-home evaluation” component where the American Lung Association of New Mexico will offer to have an asthma educator visit the homes of children who still have poorly controlled asthma. This could help see what allergens and irritants in their homes may be triggering asthma. 

To learn more about Asthma and the Taking on Asthma initiative, visit our website!

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