The aim of this work was to investigate how managed care organizations (MCOs) currently approach asthma treatment and management and to determine factors affecting asthma outcomes. A Web-based survey was administered to a national sample of 351 medical directors of MCOs to investigate the asthma management program components in their organizations as well as gaps and barriers in the management of patients with asthma. All 134 (38.2%) responding medical directors reported that their organizations monitor asthma patients. Plans use a variety of asthma management activities, including general member education (90%), member education by mail (87%), self-management education (85%), and provider education (82%). Educational resources (89%) and telephone advice nurse (77%) were the most common self-management strategies offered. Among factors impeding the provision of effective asthma care, noncompliance with asthma treatment, the inappropriate use of medications, and the need for multiple medications were cited by virtually all respondents. Health plans rely on an array of strategies to manage asthma patients. Education encouraging patient self-management is a key component of asthma management programs. However, a considerable number of treatment approach barriers are impeding the achievement of proper asthma care. Without innovative approaches to care, it appears that current MCOs’ asthma management efforts may not result in substantial improvements in asthma outcomes
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