Helping those with childhood asthma breathe a little easier

Jacki Porter is Senior Clinical Program Manager with UnitedHealthcare Community & State Clinical Capabilities and Jennifer Janowski is Director Clinical Strategy, Child and Adolescent Health with UnitedHealthcare Community & State.

In the United States, more than four million children have asthma.1 This disease can prevent children from enjoying things other children take for granted, such as sleeping through the night, participating in school activities, playing sports and engaging in physical and social events. Childhood asthma can even be life-threatening. While asthma can develop at any age, most children show symptoms before the age of five.2

A childhood asthma diagnosis can be overwhelming for parents, who often feel uncertain about what to do next and how to manage asthma symptoms. To help educate and empower children with asthma and their parents, UnitedHealthcare worked with Scene Health and Sesame Workshop to provide asthma-specific tools and resources with helpful information about medication adherence, symptom management, trigger avoidance and more.

Scene Health: Making symptom management easier through better engagement

Scene Health has a long-standing focus on advancing health equity through daily connections. They work to empower every patient to take control of their health. This includes keeping children supported and motivated through asthma medication adherence.

On average, just 30% to 50% of children with asthma adhere to their prescribed medication schedule correctly and consistently.3 To improve this rate for children with more severe or less controlled asthma, Scene Health designed a pediatric clinical program called video Directly Observed Therapy (vDOT).

The vDOT program engages members and families within the populations that Managed Care Organizations serve to:

  • Observe that members are taking medications correctly
  • Ensure that they are taking them consistently
  • Help members develop healthy habits for better health outcomes

Scene Health’s vDOT uses a human-centered approach. The program begins with a comprehensive medication review with a licensed pharmacist. With the review complete, the pediatric asthma patient begins daily check-ins on the app. First, they review any symptoms they are experiencing. Next, they create a short video that shows them taking their medication. The video is submitted to the Scene Health Coach for review, who sends back an in-app chat, video or call to offer support for taking the medication correctly or offers further education.

The patient continues to create videos for up to 90 days, submitting them for Scene team review daily. Because the patient is engaged in the program every day, it helps to develop healthy habits such as consistent medication adherence. It also empowers pediatric asthma members and helps build the confidence they need to manage their symptoms.4

Through Scene Health’s vDOT program, a customized action plan is created for each child. When the plan is shared with the child’s family, school and community members, it enables anyone within the social fabric of the child’s life to:

  • Identify asthma triggers
  • Learn about and understand asthma triggers
  • Practice asthma-management techniques
  • Assist the child in taking medication correctly and consistently

The team at Scene Health reviews the patient videos for instances of medication administration error and for opportunities to coach the patient, providing their feedback through asynchronous video or in-app chat as well.

The vDOT platform has been shown to help decrease emergency room visits and hospitalizations and to decrease the need for oral steroids. In addition, it can successfully detect medication and technique errors and resolve them through provider analysis of patient videos. Today, Scene Health vDOT is used as a medication adherence tool among many public health departments and Medicaid plans across the country.5

Sesame Workshop: Providing resources for those with childhood asthma and their parents through Sesame Street in communities

Sesame Workshop is also working hard to improve the lives of children with asthma through Sesame Street in Communities.6 A long-standing UnitedHealthcare Community & State partner, the organization has developed an extensive library of asthma-related educational resources and information, including strategies and support for parents, asthma action plans, multimedia tools, activities, games, educational videos, books, guides and articles. The resources are designed to be relevant, valuable and easy to understand. There are even tips for parents on how to work with their child’s asthma care team.

The wide range of resources is targeted to both young members who have asthma and anyone in their lives who supports them in managing their health, including parents, teachers and other care providers. Many of the activities focus on everyday healthy habits and daily routines and can be filtered by age, time required to complete and format (video, storybook, printout or interactive). Sesame Workshop provides age-appropriate resources in both English and Spanish that engage a child at their development stage.

Bringing it all together for pediatric asthma members

Working with both Sesame Workshop and Scene Health helps UnitedHealthcare provide a hands-on approach to intervention, boosting engagement with both parents and children. We are dedicated to ensuring all members with asthma have access to the information they need to feel empowered to manage their health and make informed decisions.

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