“Putting patients first” – Educating and empowering asthma patients for optimum management and outcomes.
AstraZeneca together with Asthma Malaysia introduced the Breathe Easy Asthma Management Programme beginning 15th June 2017 fundamentally to help, educate and empower asthma patients. Numerous studies published in their findings the importance of empowering patients to manage their disease correctly to improve and expand better care.
In cooperation and referral from the doctors, this program is being conducted for asthma patients in the clinics and hospitals nationwide for FREE. The focus is on holistic disease education and inhaler counselling which is one of the many initiatives aligned with Astra Zeneca’s values of “Putting patients first.” The programme takes cognizance that most of the healthcare professionals might not have sufficient time to educate their patients.
Asthma Action Plan
The AstraZeneca programme is an important part of an ‘Asthma Action Plan’ that every asthma patient should have to look after their condition. Asthma is a life-long disease that varies from one person to another, both in severity and treatment. Having an Asthma Action Plan shall have a series of steps personalised to manage your asthma condition when it gets out of control. This written plan recognises the early warning signs of asthma and is very helpful when managing asthma at home. It helps patients to:
• Take control and manage their asthma;
• Manage the dosage of your medications so that your asthma is well-controlled; and
• Make a decision when you have an attack and to seek emergency help.
A survey by the charity Asthma UK revealed that more than 56% of asthma sufferers don’t have a written ‘Asthma Action Plan.’
Having this simple ‘Asthma Action Plan’ can be a lifesaver for an asthma patient when you get a sudden attack. Dr Andy Whittamore from Asthma UK says, “Tragically, three people die from an asthma attack every day (in the UK), leaving families devastated. But two-thirds of these deaths could have been prevented with basic asthma care, such as a written asthma action plan.”
DidYouKnow >>>> Everyone with asthma should discuss and write up an asthma action plan with their GP or asthma nurse which could save their life.
An important part of managing your asthma is in identifying what you are allergic to and find ways to avoid exposure to your triggers. This too becomes part of the daily management of your asthma condition and action plan. Table 1 gives you a comprehensive list of triggers that can make your asthma worse and what actions you can take to reduce your triggers.
Table 1: Asthma Triggers (courtesy of Minnesota Department of Health, USA)
The Journal of Asthma May 2016 reported that a study from the physician perspectives revealed that 56.8% of the physicians agreed that patient attitudes influenced their treatment approach. Thus, empowering the patients to manage their condition would overcome the limited consultation time with their doctors and improve the treatment outcomes.
Face-to-face education would be one the most efficient method of providing basic information to the patient about the disease and treatment. AstraZeneca’s Nurse Educators in this ‘Programme Breathe Easy’ meet the asthma patient face-to-face to educate and provide them with in-depth step by step demonstration by following appropriate technique. The feedback from the doctors and patients have been encouraging.
‘Programme Breathe Easy’ Patients Feedback
The programme has been implemented throughout Peninsular Malaysia since 15 June 2017, and till date, the nurse educators from AstraZeneca have provided counselling and education to more than 580 asthma patients. We interviewed a selection of the patients for their feedback on the ‘Programme Breather Easy’, they have been through, and their responses with their consent are given below.
InfoMed: How did you come to know about the AstraZeneca ‘Breathe Easy’ programme on good inhaler technique?
Nizam: I was introduced to the ‘Programme Breathe Easy’ by the doctor and the clinic nurse. Previously I did not report to them that I am having difficulties using the inhaler. I found that it was beneficial for me after attending the one-to-one session with the nurse specialist and realised that I was using the wrong technique previously.
Nur: I was informed on the programme by the doctor and the clinic nurse that it would be helpful for an asthma patient.
Philo: I came to know about the programme from the clinic doctor and the nurse educator from AstraZeneca who approached me about this programme.
Liza: At first, I got to know about this programme when the nurse educator called and approached me about the programme. It triggered my interests to understand more about the inhaler and asthma as it would be much beneficial for me.
InfoMed: Was the personalised guidance in the usage of the inhaler beneficial and how?
Philo: I found that the personal guidance is very beneficial, especially as I was not good at using it correctly.
Liza: The programme was truly beneficial for me as I learnt how to use the device correctly and effectively.
InfoMed: Are you in better control of your asthma now with the proper usage of your inhaler?
Nizam: My asthma is better controlled after the practise session as well as awareness to understand more about my sickness. Yes, of course, for sure I recommend strongly to other asthmatic patients as the programme would be much helpful to manage their asthma.
Nur: It is always good to know better the inhaler technique without additional charges. I can better control my asthma after undergoing the proper instruction and take the correct dosage and at the correct time.
Philo: Now I am in much better control of my asthma and would introduce other patients to enrol in this programme.
Liza: Last but not least, my level of asthma also got well controlled after the face to face session with the nurse educator, and I can approach them anytime.
InfoMed: Would you recommend other patients to benefit from this program?
Nizam: I would recommend this programme be also introduced in the hospitals. I got the first Symbicort prescription from a private hospital. It would be very helpful to many others patients.
Nur: Yes, I will recommend this programme to other patients as well. The session was very good as this plays an important role in the sharing of knowledge for asthmatic patients.
InfoMed: Do you find the face-to-face sessions on ‘Breathe Easy’ beneficial?
Nizam: Face to face session would be good as we can assess the inhaler technique and get to learn from the nurse specialist.
Philo: It has lots of benefits. Especially the nurse educator always gives me the information via a face-to-face session. We can get clarification from the nurse on anything we doubt on the inhaler or the sickness.
InfoMed: Can you state the most important benefit from this ‘Breathe Easy’ programme?
Nizam: For me, the most beneficial part of this programme is the knowledge gain on asthma and inhaler technique.
Nur: For me, learning the inhaler technique and general knowledge of asthma was the most important part of the programme.
Philo: The most important part of this programme for me is learning how to use the inhaler effectively, knowing more about asthma and the level of asthma.
InfoMed: Any suggestion to further improve this programme?
Nur: I believe all other type of inhalers should conduct similar programme. Many of my friends/ relatives are not sure of the correct way of using the inhaler.
InfoMed: Did you also get to learn more about your condition and how to manage it effectively?
Nizam: Yes. I did learn more on my condition and the awareness of the importance to follow the correct dosage when using the inhaler.
Nur: I gained more knowledge as well as awareness of the importance of using the inhaler correctly and timely.
Philo: Now, I am good at controlling after the nurse reviewed my current condition.
InfoMed: Would you be interested in taking part in the future programme?
Nizam: Yes, I would be happy to be part of any health programme which can help others in their sickness as sharing is always caring.
Nur: Yes, I will be happy to join any health and awareness programme like this.
Philo: In future, I would like to take part in such similar programme.
Liza: Of course, I will introduce to others to join this great programme if there is any chance.
• Asthma is a lifelong condition that can be effectively managed, but there is no cure;
• Doctors significantly underestimate the extent to which patients’ asthma is controlled;
• Education and self-management skills go a long way toward helping patients with asthma monitor and manage their condition on a daily basis; and
• It is estimated that more than 80 per cent of asthma deaths could be prevented with proper asthma education.