National Jewish Health Receives Grant to Provide Asthma and COPD Education to Denver Primary Care Ph

AUGUST 30, 2011

DENVER — National Jewish Health (NJH) has received almost $1 million from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to improve care of low-income patients with asthma and COPD in the Denver metropolitan area. National Jewish Health will use a two-year $942,180 Independent Medical Educational Program Grant from GSK to train primary caregivers in the Metro Community Provider Network (MCPN) in the Denver Metropolitan area to better diagnose and manage their respiratory patients.


Professionals who complete The Colorado Tools for Managing Respiratory Disease” will earn 20 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits per year. The initiative kicked-off in the fall of 2010, and the first live training took place in March of 2011.

“There is a large, underserved asthma and COPD population in the Denver-metro area and through this grant we should be able to help address this need,” said Bruce Bender, PhD, program leader and Professor of Pediatrics at NJH.  “Thirty years of research has shown that educating primary care physicians on the diagnosis and treatment of these chronic diseases improves patient care.”

“MCPN is currently in the early stages of implementing the Asthma Tool Kit; thus far, it is proving to be the most innovative and high-quality clinical training programs we have ever embarked upon as a medical practice.  Our providers and clinical staff have been more engaged in this program than most any other performance improvement initiative we have ever undertaken,” said Patrick Tellez, Medical Director at MCPN.  “The clinical expertise combined with the clinical work flow support at the point of care has been great, the NJH staff have been outstanding and, already, we are seeing some ‘early returns’ in terms of building more effective ‘clinical teams’.  While we know there is still much work to be done, just knowing that we are on the right trajectory for achieving and sustaining ‘excellence’ has been energizing!” 

The “Colorado Tools for Managing Respiratory Diseases,” is organized into two phases.  The first phase focuses on asthma education.  In addition to multidisciplinary live group half-day trainings, NJH outreach trainers will visit each MCPN clinic several times within a one-year period to provide education to physicians and their staff about certain aspects related to the diagnosis and management of asthma. Each practice receives information and hands-on experience on how to use a respiratory diagnostic tool, known as a spirometer, and the training necessary to use and analyze test results effectively.

Faculty and staff from NJH will educate providers to increase patients’medication adherence and effective self-management by providing patients with an outreach “toolkit.”  The toolkits include resources and educational materials for patients, and are printed in both English and Spanish to meet the needs of MCPN’s patient population.

This project builds on a successful program National Jewish Health conducted for health professionals in rural Colorado. Dr. Bender and his colleagues recently published results of that effort, which was funded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. Primary care offices that participated in the “Colorado Asthma Toolkit Program” increased their use of diagnostic tools, actions plans for patients, and effective medical therapy.  

The second phase of this educational process will focus on COPD within the same provider network.  Feedback and educational outcomes from Phase I will be assessed and incorporated into Phase II.

The goals of the educational program are to improve adherence with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Asthma Guidelines and the American Thoracic Society’s Guidelines for the management of COPD.  It is hoped that such adherence will be followed by an increase in the overall management of both asthma and COPD for their patients.

The success of the educational program will be determined by evaluating the MCPN’s electronic medical records for key indices related to guidance adherence.  NJH has partnered with a Denver-based educational outcomes provider, Healthcare Research, Inc., to gather and analyze data from the EMR, as well as to provide an educational outcomes report for this initiative.

“We know that if primary care physicians use these tools and follow the guidelines, patient management of asthma and COPD will improve,” said Dr. Bender.  “Our challenge is educating those physicians on how to use those tools.”

National Jewish Health is known worldwide for treatment of patients with respiratory, cardiac, immune and related disorders, and for groundbreaking medical research. Founded in 1899 as a nonprofit hospital, National Jewish remains the only facility in the world dedicated exclusively to these disorders. Since 1998, U.S. News & World Report has ranked National Jewish the #1 respiratory hospital in the nation.

National Jewish Health is accredited by the Accreditation Council of Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Metro Community Provider Network: is a 503(c)(3) not-for-profit organization which provides medical and health education services to the underserved and indigent population in Denver, CO, and surrounding counties.  In 2010, MCPN provided health and medical related services to approximately 37,800 patients, which translates to 231,190 visits to its community clinics.  The income levels of 69% of MCPN patients are at or below poverty level, and more than half of the population is Hispanic.

MCPN is currently preparing for a transition to the Medical Home Model.

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