Article Abstract

Comparison of clinical characteristics and management of asthma by types of health care in South Korea

Authors: Eun Yeong Cho, Ki Jong Oh, Chin Kook Rhee, Kwang Ha Yoo, Bo Yeon Kim, Hye Won Bae, Byung-Jae Lee, Dong-Chull Choi, Hyun Lee, Hye Yun Park

Abstract

Background: Data on the clinical characteristics of asthma patients including utilization of medical facilities, disease management, and healthcare costs by types of health care are insufficient.
Methods: We evaluated data on 729,343 asthma patients from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRA) database of Korea between July 2013 and June 2014.
Results: Most asthma patients were treated via primary care (81.7%), followed by tertiary (17.8%) and secondary (0.5%) care. Patients requiring secondary or tertiary care exhibited more comorbidities and exacerbations than those treated via primary care, and utilized more medical facilities (associated with higher medical costs). The prescription rate of leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs) was relatively high for those receiving all types of health care, ranging from 62% to 78%. However, the prescription rate of inhalants containing corticosteroids was significantly lower in patients treated via primary care than those receiving secondary or tertiary care (P<0.001). In addition, pulmonary function testing (PFT) was performed less often in patients treated via primary care than in those receiving secondary or tertiary care (P<0.001).
Conclusions: Most patients with asthma were treated via primary care; however, those receiving secondary or tertiary care exhibited substantial utilization of medical facilities with high costs. Diagnostic measures and the prescription of inhalants containing corticosteroids in primary care require urgent attention.