Aiming to improve asthma diagnoses, Parkland Health and Hospital System has begin administering “spirometry” tests to diagnose pediatric patients earlier at its centers. The new approach was funded in part by the Network Access Improvement Program, which was created by the 83rd Texas Legislature to bolster primary care for Medicaid clients with incentive payments.
According to Parkland, the spirometry test provides a more accurate diagnosis for patients to determine the right treatment for doctors to administer. The test measures a patient’s overall lung function by determining how much air they can breathe in and out, and how hard it is to breathe using a “mouthpiece attached to a tube, connected to a spirometer machine.”
The procedure went through initial trials at Parkland’s Oak West Health Center, which treats many asthma patients. Dr. Barbara Durso, lead pediatrician at Parkland Oak West Health Center, says since asthma is often linked to “areas of high population density, exposure to indoor allergens, and proximity to major highways,” those variants may explain why Oak West is a “hot spot.”
Spirometry, Durso says, “allows us to refine how we diagnose people and how we manage their medication. Without the test, you have to diagnose people with asthma based on their symptoms and their response to medication, which may not be the best way to do it.”
The data obtained from spirometry tests can also help doctors determine what treatment will work best with the patient’s immune system and lungs. It can also discern which patients are more high-risk for certain asthma treatments than others.
Because of its success at Oak West, Parkland plans to further implement spirometry tests in its system. The hospital told D CEO Healthcare it will be used in five of Parkland’s centers.