Breathing easier - How Asthma Australia is connecting respiratory care


Perpetual Impact

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Asthma Australia and its partners are working to develop new and innovative ways to support the affected by this debilitating condition in their day-to-day lives. This process is less about new drug and treatment technologies and more about addressing the fragmentation of respiratory care in Australia.  

One exciting example of this is a new program being rolled out and assessed in South Australia.


The Adelaide Respiratory Health Project (ARHP)


This ARHP is already showing enormous potential by creating connections within the healthcare system. Currently it works across four general practices and 12 pharmacies in the local government areas of Onkaparinga and Playford. These regions have a high proportion of asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients admitted for potentially preventable hospitalisations.

Asthma Australia helps participating general practices in the region with training and resources to provide quality lung function testing services and education for their patients about their condition and its treatment.


Pharmacy training includes educating customers in how to properly administer asthma and/or COPD medications, best practice disease management, correct asthma inhaler technique and how to screen for COPD.


Prescribing better communication


As a result, pharmacists are increasingly contacting doctors if a client seeks medication too frequently, or if their condition has changed. Patients are then directed to the practice for diagnostic tests based on screening. Similarly, general practitioners are requesting medication reviews and seeking patient feedback on device technique. Increased cross-provider communication improves the health outcomes for patients.


Participating staff have already improved their clinical practices by implementing new care processes and referral pathways developed within the program and by increasing communication between providers of respiratory services. 


The general practitioners and pharmacists involved in the ARHP are now working together to coordinate patient care, integrate services and increase patient’s understanding of their conditions. This partnership ensures the patient is at the centre and results in continuity of care and improved outcomes for those living with asthma or COPD.


Assessing the results

Like many organisations working across the charity and healthcare sectors, including Perpetual, Asthma Australia recognizes the importance of measuring impact and effect. Asthma Australia will undertake a comprehensive evaluation to formally assess the success of these new processes and practices and their benefit for patients. This study will assess whether the ARHP can be replicated in other practices and pharmacies across Australia.

A core component of Asthma Australia’s approach to tackling asthma is to work with the healthcare system across various regions and provide more complete solutions for communities with asthma. While the ARHP and programs like it are still being validated, Asthma Australia is confident this new cross-provider mode will be adopted and make a lasting difference to the 2.7 million people across Australia who live with asthma.

Respiratory Health – facts and figures

  • Up to 90 per cent of Australians use their inhalers incorrectly, increasing their risk of hospitalisation by 50 per cent.1
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) affects one in seven people aged over 40 years and is the second leading cause of avoidable hospital admissions.2


1. Basheti IA, Armour CL, Bosnic-Anticevich SZ, Reddel HK. Evaluation of a novel educational strategy, including inhaler-based reminder labels, to improve asthma inhaler technique. Patient Educ Couns 2008; 72: 26-33.

2. Toelle B, Xuan W, Bird T, Abramson M, Atkinson D, Burton D, James A, Jenkins C, Johns D, Maguire G, Musk A, Walters E, Wood- Baker R, Hunter M, Graham B, Southwell P, Vollmer W, Buist A, Marks G. Respiratory symptoms and illness in older Australians: The Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) study. Med J Aust 2013;198:144-148.1. Primary Health Care Advisory Group. (2015) Better outcomes for people with chronic and complex health conditions. Canberra: Department of Health.

AIHW Asthma (viewed 12 March 2018)

AIHW Asthma and other chronic respiratory conditions. Available from

AIHW Hospital separation data update 2016-17 (unpublished)

Do you want to know about this new program?

Find out how Perpetual is helping Asthma Australia deliver better services for Asthma sufferers by supporting improved communication and co-ordination within the respiratory care system.

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