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Original Article July/August 2004, Volume 11 Issue 5: 349-353

The costs of implementing the 1999 Canadian Asthma Consensus Guidelines recommendation of asthma education and spirometry for the family physician

SP Corrigan | P Man | DL Cecillon | DD Sin | HM Sharpe | EM Andrews | RL Cowie | S Man

BACKGROUND: National and international asthma guidelines recommend that patients with asthma be provided with asthma education and spirometry as a component of enhanced asthma care. The cost of implementing these interventions in family physician practices is not known.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of the present study was to determine the cost of providing recommended asthma care to adult patients in the family practice setting.
METHODS: The present study was conducted using three scenarios of care in family practice. Small, medium and large asthmatic patient populations were used. The incremental costs of implementing enhanced asthma care based on the Canadian Asthma Consensus Guidelines, including the provision of spirometry and asthma education in both group and individual sessions, and the resources required for these interventions were calculated for each scenario.
RESULTS: For a physician with 50 asthmatic patients, the cost of providing enhanced asthma care with spirometry and group education sessions was approximately $78 per patient in the first year of implementation. For individual sessions, the cost increased to $100 per patient for the first year. If the physician had 100 asthmatic patients, the per patient cost would decrease; however, the overall cost of the program would be $7,000.
CONCLUSIONS: The costs of providing enhanced asthma care are significant. In most cases, physicians are inadequately reimbursed (or not reimbursed) for these interventions. In light of the evidence of the effectiveness of these interventions, health insurance plans should consider adding these services to fee schedules.

Asthma | Consensus guidelines | Economic analysis | Family medicine
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