The Asthma Center has a long history of successful research in asthma education. Research in this area has continued and expanded over the last 2 years. With recruitment of new members to the Center, there has been a concerted effort to expand our activities to several other aspects of asthma research. In particular the Center is increasingly well-linked with excellent researchers working at the University of Alberta investigating fundamental mechanisms of cell and molecular biology as well as population health and delivery of care.
The development of the Asthma Clinic in 2007 has helped tremendously in this respect. The Clinic was developed to complement the ongoing activities of the Alberta Asthma Center, which include both education and research mandates. The Clinic currently has three physicians actively involved in patient management and one nurse practitioner and one respiratory therapist who serve as the primary respiratory educators within the clinic. The Center has the patient population needed for many of the studies other researchers want to do and can attract some important collaboration. With support from AHS we have developed a database for our asthma clinic patients. This will be another important tool to increase our ability to perform high quality research. Through discussion between the Pulmonary Research Groups of the Universities of Alberta and Calgary we will work to expand this database to be used by our colleagues in Calgary and have the ability to recruit patients for our studies across the province.
Patients are referred to the Clinic by their primary care physicians. Moreover, within this last year, we have developed relationships with our Emergency Department (ED) physician colleagues, who may also refer to the clinic for patients who present to the ED. These ED patients represent a group of asthma patients who are at risk of severe morbidity from the disease, and who need urgent assessments.
A patient referred to the Clinic will receive full pulmonary physiologic testing as well as allergy skin tests. They will be assessed by the physician with the establishment of mutually agreeable management plan. They will then meet with the respiratory educator to review principles of care and the development of tools to aid the individual to in achieve disease control. Careful follow up and recording of disease progression and control are maintained through the clinic record. As well, all patients complete various questionnaires regarding management and control at each visit. If specialty care is required, we have developed relationships with colleagues in Allergy/Immunology and Ear Nose and Throat surgery for expediated care.
We have developed a successful program for the management of severe asthmatics who require specialized treatment with injectable biologic medications. Our clinic has become the referral site for other pulmonary specialists to access this care. This has become an invaluable resource for practitioners in northern Alberta.
The Clinic’s team works closely with research members of the Alberta Asthma Center. The Clinic has allowed for the potential recruitment of patients for clinical studies, both investigator-initiated as well as industry-sponsored studies. The benefit of the Clinic, is the ability to selectively recruit patients with specific characteristics to address specific research questions.
The physicians and educators are working closely with the Primary Care Networks to enhance asthma care in the community by providing clinical and educational support. Finally, clinic members are integral participants on health care panels and government advisory boards, providing insight into current clinical practice, and helping to provide solutions for the needs of patients with asthma throughout the province.
Dr. Mohit Bhutani, MD, Clinical Director