Sutter Health Improves Asthma Pilot Program by Expanding Telemedicine

Posted on Jan 18, 2018

Patients can use their smartphones to register for a My Health Online account.

To help ensure that all people in our community have access to quality care, Sutter Health has piloted an Adult Asthma Program partnership in Oakland with LifeLong Medical Care to help reduce the health inequity that currently exists for African-American adults seeking care for asthma.

The pilot program enrolled 50 patients in 2017 from the more than 400 who were treated at the Alta Bates Summit Emergency Rooms in Oakland and Berkeley. These patients had one-to-one appointments with a respiratory therapist at LifeLong Medical Care and received asthma education so they could manage their disease. Since the pilot program’s launch, only one of the 50 enrollees has gone back to visit the Alta Bates Summit Emergency Room for asthma related symptoms.

“One of the goals of this pilot program was to link asthma patients to a medical care home at our East Oakland clinic so they could optimize their asthma control with our primary care team,” says Dr. Rachel Fogel, LifeLong Medical Care Associate Medical Director. “By partnering with Sutter Health, members of our community who often relied on the emergency room are now accessing primary medical care in their own neighborhood.”

Stephen Lockhart M.D., Ph.D., Sutter Health’s Chief Medical Officer and Albert Chan M.D., Sutter Health’s Chief of Digital Patient Experience at the Sutter Health Telehealth event.

Patients also had a home visit from social workers to evaluate their home environment and assist people with poor housing conditions such as pests or mold.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, asthma is one of the most common chronic illnesses in the United States, affecting about 25 million Americans. The racial disparities in asthma occurrence is substantial. African-Americans are three times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than people of other races or ethnicities.

The Next Big Thing: Virtual Health Care
Sutter Health is now offering free telemedicine access for LifeLong Medical Care adult asthma program patients. This means that patients can schedule a live clinical consultation from their computer or smartphone. Sutter Health advance practice clinicians are available every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to treat a variety of health conditions including infections, coughs, colds and respiratory issues.

“Our virtual visit service provides are anywhere there’s an internet connection,” says Albert Chan, M.D., Sutter Health’s Chief of Digital Patient Experience. “We are very excited to bring innovative solutions to the people who need it most.”

Sutter Health Telehealth team members provided tutorials and helped patients sign up for My Health Online.

On Thursday, January 18, Sutter Health invited LifeLong Medical Care’s asthma patients to attend a “Telehealth Pizza Party” at LifeLong’s East Oakland care center. Dr. Chan provided a live demonstration of how the virtual care visit technology works and help patients register for an account using Sutter Health’s My Health Online.

“Sutter Health is committed to enhancing the health and well-being of our communities and our health equity initiatives are focused on assuring that all segments of the community have access to comparable outcomes,” says Stephen Lockhart, M.D., Ph.D., a longtime Oakland resident and Sutter Health’s Chief Medical Officer. “Our pilot program in Oakland has successfully shown that asthma can be managed effectively and equity achieved when patients have access to a system of coordinated care.”

To learn more about Sutter Health’s Video Visits, visit our website:

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