High-Efficiency Air Purification as a Tool to Reduce Asthma Costs by Lowering Patient Risk
High-efficiency air purification as a tool to reduce asthma costs by lowering patient risk
Managed-care organizations are under increasing pressure to effectively control asthma medical costs. But when asthma treatments include emergency-department (ED) visits or hospitalization, expenses skyrocket. The average annual medical cost for an asthma patient in a managed-care organization is $3,745, according to a study of Kaiser Permanente Southern California asthma patients.i But in severe asthma cases the average cost rises to $6,797, the same study found. Overall, medical expenses for asthma rank fifth in total annual costs among all medical conditions in the United States.ii Asthma patients can be categorized into high, medium and low asthma-risk levels (See chart, this page). The annual cost of care for an asthma patient increases substantially if that patient requires hospitalization, ED visits or multiple medications. Therefore, managed-care organizations can benefit greatly by developing strategies to reduce the severity of patient symptoms.
Controlling medications can play an important role in preventing ED visits and hospitalization. But the cost of these medications is also expensive, and patients don’t always see the benefits of using these medications on a continuous basis. The challenge for managed-care organizations is to develop additional strategies that move asthma patients from higher-risk groups to low-risk groups, potentially saving an average of $3,249 per year (see chart on other side) or even more if controlling medications can be further reduced or even eliminated based on the treating physician’s advice. Asthma attacks – coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, difficulty breathing – can be triggered by a variety of environmental sources including airborne pollen, dust mites, air pollution particles, molds, animal dander, cockroach particles, smoke, hair spray and other irritants.iii
While proper use of medication is vital to controlling asthma, so also is avoiding the irritants that can cause an attack, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.iv Controlling a patient’s exposure to airborne asthma triggers can help reduce or eliminate attacks that require “rescue” medications (for rapid short-term relief), ED visits or hospitalization. Air purification removes asthma triggers from the air a patient breathes.
The American Lung Association recommends using high-efficiency mechanical air cleaners that don’t produce lung-irritating ozone.v IQAir’s HyperHEPA filtration is tested and certified to filter particles down to 0.003 microns (the world’s smallest particle) with a guaranteed minimum efficiency of more than 99.5 percent. This is 100 times better than what can be achieved by ordinary HEPA technology. The outcome is the elimination of dangerous ultrafine particles that are small enough to damage human cells. And the IQAir system produces no ozone.
AIR PURIFIER AT HOME
Consider the case of 7-year-old Matthew C., of Whittier, Calif., who went from being a high-risk asthma patient requiring multiple annual ED visits to being a low-risk patient who no longer requires any asthma medications. The difference is his use of an IQAir air purifier. His mother Crystal says that almost every October and May, before Matthew started using an air purifier, she took him to the hospital when his quick-relief medication wasn’t enough to stop an asthma attack. These ED visits and the rescue medications required to treat his attacks placed Matthew squarely in the high-risk category. His asthma attacks were triggered in the fall and spring, when airborne pollen and other triggers are most abundant. In 2009, he visited his pediatrician to be treated for asthma eight times. He visited the hospital emergency department twice. In 2010, Crystal took home an IQAir HealthPro® Plus stand-alone air purifier. She put the air purification system in Matthew’s bedroom and immediately turned it on at its highest setting. That was in September, the beginning of another bad period for Matthew’s asthma. It has run continuously since then.
Matthew’s breathing improved immediately and dramatically the first night he slept in his bedroom with the IQAir HealthPro Plus running. He has not used his short-acting beta-agonist medication (albuterol) since then, in either nebulizer of canister form. For a period of time, his mother continued to carry the canister, and a canister is maintained at Matthew’s school as well. The impact of the IQAir HealthPro Plus on Matthew’s non-drug asthma costs has been equally dramatic. For the first time in his life, he made it through the entire autumn, winter and spring seasons without a single trip to a hospital for an emergency injection. He has not been to the ED since. Obviously, the cost savings are substantial.
“And now he plays Little League Baseball,” says Crystal. “He’s become a boy without breathing problems.” Matthew’s pediatrician asked Crystal what she is giving her son that could account for the improvement in his asthma. “I’m giving him clean air to breathe,” she said, smiling. It’s evident that use of the IQAir HealthPro Plus has had a major impact on the management of Matthew’s asthma. Previously he was by definition a high asthma-risk case, and now he is managing his asthma at a very low asthma-risk level, resulting in an improved lifestyle and the elimination of costs on multiple levels.
CASE STUDY: Average Savings Using IQAir HealthPro® Plus
Average high-risk/low-risk costs based on “Asthma costs and utilization in a managed care organization,” Robert S. Zeiger, M.D., Ph.D., et. al, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, February 2008. Zeiger is director of Allergy Research at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Diego, Calif. Actual current medical costs for treating Matthew’s asthma are substantially lower than the low-risk asthma patient average cost since he no longer requires any medication.
i “Asthma costs and utilization in a managed care organization,” Robert S. Zeiger, M.D., Ph.D., et. al., American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and
Immunology, February 2008.
ii “The Five Most Costly Conditions, 1996 and 2006: Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population,” Medical Expenditure Panel
Survey, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Statistical Brief #248, July 2009.
iii “Important Asthma Triggers,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/triggers.html
iv “Management and Treatment,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/management.html
v “Home Control of Allergies and Asthma,” a brochure published by the American Lung Association, 2004.