Major changes ahead for asthma management

Making low dose steroid inhalers available over the counter and allowing practice nurses to write asthma action plans are just some of the radical suggestions put forward in the draft National Asthma Strategy released for public consultation this week.

A pilot trial making low-dose steroid inhalers available OTC would be implemented on a wider scale if the move is shown to improve asthma management, the document states.

It also recommends a post-market review of the use of combination medication (ICS/LABA) including the cost of preventer medications.

Under the plans a far-reaching review of the healthcare workforce would see trained asthma educators obtain Medical Provider status. Practice nurses would also write asthma action plans and other healthcare professionals would take a greater role in asthma management.

“Asthma action plans can only be completed by general practitioners, who are time poor with multiple competing demands,” the document noted. 

There would also be a review of all asthma-related Medicare Provider Numbers and Practice Incentive Program (PIP) payments provided to health professionals to ensure “best practice and quality improvement in asthma diagnosis and management”.

The document also includes an increased focus on research, with the aim of increasing asthma research investment to a minimum of $35M annually by 2020.

In order to continue the attack against asthma, Australia must now focus on closing the gap between what we know and what we do, the document states.

“The biggest gaps between evidence and practice lie in asthma diagnosis and management; closing this gap will improve asthma control and patient quality of life and reduce asthma morbidity and its associated costs. ”

The draft strategy is being circulated for public consultation and will be presented to the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council for endorsement, with a view to publication in the first half of 2016.

You can access a full copy of the draft strategy here. 


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