Transforming Health Care Through Evidence and Collaboration
Transforming Health Care Through Evidence and Collaboration

Children's Asthma Management: Partnering to Improve Clinical Training

Asthma is the most prevalent chronic illness among children and the leading cause of school absenteeism.1 It is also a costly condition, with total annual spending for children’s asthma-related hospital visits coming in at over $300 million.2 Even among children with health care coverage and access to primary care, managing the disease to prevent asthma emergencies has proven difficult.3

The Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma Project, a partnership between Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) and the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest (ALAUM), aims to improve health outcomes for children with asthma by supporting the implementation of nationally recognized asthma-care guidelines at primary care health centers with high-risk patients, including physician offices, federally qualified community health centers, school-based clinics and other primary care clinics.

Establishing Collective Focus

The asthma project was developed as a part of HCSC’s signature health and wellness initiative, Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® (HKHF). This initiative began in 2011 in an effort to leverage the strong ideas and relationships of HCSC’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Each state health plan has a history of awarding community-based grants to local population health programs with similar objectives. Healthy Kids, Healthy Families introduced a new structure for grant-making that enables the health plans to band together, share best practices and expand successful partnerships across all four states to maximize impact.

Through Healthy Kids, Healthy Families, the health plans in each of the four states award grants on a local level in four pillar focus areas:

  • nutrition
  • physical activity
  • managing and preventing disease
  • supporting safe environments

HCSC also selects a key nonprofit partner(s) in each focus area to function as a pillar partner, working across the four states to implement a consistent program. These partners and programs are selected for their ability to implement sustainable, measurable programs with a strong emphasis on outcomes.

While HKHF initially launched with the goal of improving the health and wellness of over one million children within three years, the initiative has reached well over seven million children in that period and is no longer a time-bound initiative. Rather, HKHF is now part of HCSC’s ongoing commitment to improving community health and is being expanded to include HCSC’s newest health plan, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana.

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