12 October 2018
An (inter)national systematic approach for patients with asthma COPD referred to secondary care is lacking. Therefore, a novel systematic approach was designed and tested in clinical practice.
This was a retrospective observational study of data from the electronic record system of the Leiden University Medical Center. Asthma and COPD patients were included if they were evaluated with a novel systematic approach or if they had a new record for asthma or COPD and received usual care. The novel systematic approach consisted of a predefined diagnostic evaluation combined with an optional internet-based self-management support system. Diagnostic tests, final diagnosis, lifestyle advices, symptoms and individual care plans in the electronic records, number of patients referred back to primary care, and time to referral back to primary care were compared between the systematic approach and usual care groups using t-tests and chi-squared tests.
A total of 125 patients were included, of which 22 (21.4%) were evaluated with the systematic approach. Mean (±SD) age was 48.8 (±18.4) years and 59.2% were women. Mean (±SD) number of diagnostic tests was higher in the systematic approach group compared with the usual care group (7.6±1.0 vs 5.5±1.8, P<0.001). Similarly, in the systematic approach group, more lifestyle advices (81.8% vs 29.1%), symptom scores (95.5% vs 21.4%), and individual care plans (50.0% vs 7.8%) were electronically recorded ( P<0.001), and more patients were referred back to primary care (81.8% vs 56.3%, P=0.03). There were no differences in the final diagnoses and time to referral back.
Our study suggested that not all tests that were included in the systematic approach are regularly needed in the diagnostic work-up. In addition, a designated systematic approach stimulates physicians to record lifestyle advices, symptoms, and individual care plans. Thus, this approach could increase the number of patients referred back to primary care.