Children and teens who live in inner city areas are especially vulnerable to asthma, and face greater challenges managing the treatment that keeps their asthma in check. With a rate of pediatric asthma in Greater Cincinnati more than twice the national average, doctors here are looking for innovative, sure-fire ways to help these children better manage their disease.
One such undertaking is a telehealth program that partners with inner city schools. Telehealth connects patients and doctors via a Skype-like format. A pilot program that ran in three schools during the 2015–16 school year and enrolled 21 children proved highly successful. The program has now been funded for two years to develop a sustainable pulmonary clinic at school and will include five Cincinnati public schools and as many as 75 participants.
“It started as a program to test telehealth as a medical and self-management intervention with inner city kids in schools,” says Theresa Guilbert, MD, MS, director of the Asthma Center. “We notice in our clinics that these kids have issues with transportation, organization, missing school—they don’t always come to their clinic appointments. So our question was, how can we reach our patients better?”