New White Paper Outlines Need to Improve Access to Respiratory Care

 Published: April 19, 2016

By: AARC Staff

A new white paper issued by the Institute for Patient Access (IfPA) outlines the need to improve access to respiratory care for patients with chronic lung conditions like COPD, asthma, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Written by a working group of leading physicians and respiratory therapists, the paper covers a range of issues facing patients today, from access to approved therapies, to access to the full scope of respiratory care, to other barriers that impede patient care.

According to AARC Executive Director Thomas Kallstrom, MBA, RRT, FAARC, who served as a member of the working group, he and other AARC members on the panel got involved after the IfPA’s parent organization, the Alliance for Patient Access, contacted the Association requesting content experts.

“The Alliance for Patient Access is devoted to ensuring more patients are able to receive the medical services they need to deal with their conditions, and the fact that the organization is recognizing the problems being faced by chronic respiratory patients could not be more important to the AARC and our members,” says Kallstrom. “We were pleased to be able to help the organization outline the key issues facing these patients and how they can be overcome.”

Pressing Need Seen for RTs

The paper specifically covers the important role respiratory therapists play in the care and education of respiratory patients and notes that “there is a pressing need for their expertise in all health care settings.”

The document goes on to address current reimbursement issues that curtail the ability of respiratory therapists to provide needed care and education to patients outside of the hospital setting and emphasizes the need to overcome these issues. The authors specifically cite the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015 as one possible solution, noting that the legislation would “expand telemedicine providers and services to include respiratory therapists and respiratory care as well as geographic locations available for telemedicine.“

The AARC’s Political Advocacy Contact Team traveled to Capitol Hill last week to lobby members of Congress on this important legislation. Lobbyists from the AfPA were on hand to help drive home the need to improve access to respiratory care services.

Right care, right setting

In addition to Kallstrom, AARC members on the working group included Kent Christopher, MD, RRT, Jeff Keener, MS, RRT, RPSGT, Natalie Napolitano, MPH, RRT-NPS, FAARC, and AARC President Frank R. Salvatore Jr., MBA, RRT, FAARC.

Samuel Louie, MD, J. Allen Meadows, MD, Purvi Parikh, MD, and Tonya Winders, MBA, president and CEO of the Allergy & Asthma Network, rounded out the panel.

“Chronic respiratory illnesses such as asthma and COPD are under-diagnosed and under-treated, in spite of scientific evidence that prevalence and cost of care are dramatically on the rise,” notes Dr. Christopher. “Unfortunately, once our health care system identifies patients with chronic respiratory illness, care is often reactive, in that resources are focused upon management of exacerbations rather than proactive with regards to proper patient education and partnering with the patient in collaborative patient-centric care.”

He believes the white paper will increase awareness of unmet respiratory patient needs by targeting influential communities of interest such as CMS and the FDA, other insurance payors, members of Congress, and industry.

Thomas Kallstrom agrees. “This white paper will be read by policymakers and others with the ability to influence access to respiratory care and the respiratory therapists who provide that care. It is a big step forward in our mission to ensure more patients get the care they need in the setting that makes the most sense for them and the health care system as a whole.”

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