Wednesday, May 18, 2011
ROCHESTER, Minn. — The Southeast Minnesota Beacon Program, a federally funded health information technology research effort, has released an asthma "toolkit" to help nurses and other staff members in the public schools of 11 southeastern Minnesota counties effectively deal with children's chronic asthma symptoms in school. The toolkit was made available online, with school districts informed of how to access the website.
"This is one of the first tangible advancements of the Beacon effort. It means that all participating schools will have the information and resources to develop their own asthma action plans to help their students," says Erin Knoebel, M.D., Mayo Clinic pediatrician and coordinator of the toolkit project.
The kit contains educational materials and offers opportunities with the Beacon program. The 47 school districts can take part in the next stage of using standards-based health information education to increase the accuracy and completeness of reporting asthma incidents.
The ultimate goal is to collaboratively develop what Beacon leaders call a "cocoon of care" for children with chronic asthma, by coordinating efforts and information about student needs among their homes, health providers and schools. Research has shown chronic asthma affects a student's ability to exercise and take part in school activities and impacts self-esteem, school attendance and performance.
"This toolkit will help districts promote school environments where children with asthma can feel safe, be healthy and remain active," says Barbara Yawn, M.D., a Beacon co-investigator and pioneer of the Community Collaborative Asthma Project in Olmsted County. According to research published by Dr. Yawn and colleagues, up to 12 percent of school children in southeast Minnesota may be affected by asthma.
The Asthma Management Plan Toolkit is available on the Schools page of the Southeast Minnesota Beacon website.
Southeast Minnesota Beacon is one of 17 community-based recipients of pilot program awards throughout the U.S. from the Office of the Coordinator of Health Information Technology, Department of Health and Human Services. Each Beacon is to spotlight a variety of "best practice" approaches to improving health and health care delivery in the United States. The Beacon Communities are a series of medical practice and research coalitions focusing on specific health conditions in their areas using and developing efficient systems based on their expertise. The Southeast Minnesota Beacon, including collaborative partners from Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center, Winona Health, Mayo Clinic Health System and public health departments in 11 counties, is focusing on childhood asthma and type II diabetes in adults.
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