How to optimally use the asthma infographics to ‘Support patients to steer clear of the cliff edge’: From reactive asthma management to proactive asthma management
Frances Barrett, Respiratory Nurse Specialist, Northern Ireland and Katherine Hickman, General Practitioner, Leeds and PCRS Vice Chair
When a patient is diagnosed with asthma they are starting on a journey; a journey that for the majority will last a lifetime. If that patient starts off on the wrong foot and travels down the wrong path it is unlikely to be a smooth one. They may feel alone, confused, scared and unsupported. The information they received at diagnosis may have been minimal and they leave with no idea on how to manage their asthma outside of the GP surgery or A&E. Equally, they may have been bombarded with untailored information, given leaflets, access to videos on inhaler technique, signposted to Asthma UK, the RightBreathe app and handed a Personal Asthma Action Plan (PAAP).
In order to support patients and clinicians to start off on the right path from the outset of diagnosis the Asthma Right Care working group commissioned the development of three infographic storyboards. These depict the potential journey any asthma patient may travel during their lives
The first story board (Figure 1) considers ‘how’ to gain an accurate asthma diagnosis and incorporates all the relevant subjective and objective assessments required to confirm an asthma diagnosis.
The second story board (Figure 2) explores the various ‘management paths’ that a patient can choose to travel or be guided along – ‘the reactive management path’ depicted on the left side of the picture as a grey, scary road consisting of numerous reminders of all the potential negative outcomes associated with poor management choices - conversely ‘the proactive treatment path’ depicted as a bright optimistic path – with optimal asthma outcomes.
The overarching infographics (Figures 3 and 4) are a comprehensive overview of the many facets of asthma care in conjunction with both the potential negative and positive patient outcomes. This dramatic infographic demonstrates some of the potential negative outcomes with many of the associated contributary factors on the ‘dark’ left side of the picture whilst the positive outcomes in conjunction with relevant contributary factors are pictorially represented on the brighter right hand side of the picture – there are a number of signs scattered throughout this infographic - which are hyperlinks to relevant advice, supporting material and pre-recorded presentations to support clinicians navigate their way along the most effective treatment path for their individual asthma patients – keeping them safely away from the dangerous ‘cliff edge’ and on the path towards optimal health outcomes – asthma utopia
Ultimately education is a key component to ensure understanding around the underlying disease aetiology of asthma and how it is responsible for inducing the variable and intermittent symptoms of cough, wheeze, dyspnoea, chest tightness and chest pain, which are the hallmark of asthma. Clinicians and patients must be able to make well-informed treatment decisions towards safe and effective management contributing to optimal long-term outcomes for this long-term condition.
Living with asthma is rarely a smooth journey but it can and should be a lot smoother for our patients. It is our duty of care to ensure it is as smooth a journey as possible. We must minimise the speed bumps and the potholes, steer them away from the cliff edge, keep them on the right path and guide or carry them when they need us most.