Treating pediatric patients with diagnosed asthma can be more complex and time-consuming than that of adults due to children’s inability to understand the importance of following medical prescriptions and regimens. One of the issues that exist today in this healthcare industry is establishing a mechanism for adhering to the mode of taking medications among the younger age group of the population. Since parental participation is mandatory for productive interventions, the engaging adult is an essential part of the education program. Some challenges and barriers may arise, in particular, health illiteracy regarding the importance of following the regimen of medical treatment.
Nevertheless, there are effective methods of involving pediatric patients in the continuous medical process through the use of modern technological developments. Digital programs and applications that help control taking anti-asthma drugs simplify medication compliance control and allow both children and their parents to understand the importance of strict adherence to a specific treatment model.
The problem of medication compliance in children with chronic asthma is relevant given the consequences that inadequate control may entail. According to Callaghan-Koru, Riekert, Ruvalcaba, Rand, and Eakin (2018), preschoolers who have such a confirmed diagnosis are three times more likely to be admitted to emergency departments than older children (p. e20180829). One of the main factors hindering the normal course of treatment is the lack of a system in taking appropriate medications. The authors state that only about 63% of caregivers of pediatric asthmatic patients can identify the right drugs and the course of treatment, which is a gap (Callaghan-Koru et al., 2018, p. e20180829). As a result, children’s health outcomes worsen, and patient safety decreases.
Despite the efforts made by medical specialists, the development of chronic asthma at an early age cannot be anticipated, which brings additional challenges and explains the need for constant monitoring of children’s health. In case of the confirmation of the diagnosis, parental education is considered one of the beneficial measures that contribute to improving patient outcomes and simplifying any narrowly targeted interventions. Nevertheless, although Kim et al. (2019) argue that a normal treatment regimen may be established within two weeks, cases of problems caused by medication in compliance are repeated regularly. Therefore, it is essential to consider the positive results achieved by today and clarify key barriers and failures.
Today, education provided by healthcare employees regarding the importance of medication compliance in pediatric asthmatic children is an effective way to prevent the health risks of young patients. According to Kim et al. (2019), the global medical community agrees that “increasing the effectiveness of adherence interventions may have a much greater impact on population health than any improvement in specific medical treatments” (p. 223).
In other words, stakeholders recognize the importance of adhering to treatment regimens for children with chronic asthma, and the measures taken to increase knowledge about this topic are valuable. In addition, the authors note the success of self-management practices promoted among the target audience and compare them with less effective demonstrative presentations that do not bring significant positive results (Kim et al., 2019). As a result, a large percentage of the population is aware of the importance of medication compliance and its impact on treatment.
Barriers and Failures
Despite advances in the field in question, some barriers and failures arise, which, in turn, slow down progress and create difficulties for the productive treatment of chronic asthma in children. For instance, Myers and Murray (2019) report poor adult health literacy as one of the factors that inhibit effective interventions. The authors state that poor health literacy is not a factor that correlates with various social variables, such as age, gender, or income level (Myers & Murray, 2019).
This means that the problem of neglecting the basics of medication compliance is relevant among a wide range of people and requires eliminating healthcare specialists’ productive activities. As a failure, Kim et al. (2019) mention the inability of adults to control the treatment regimen of their children with chronic asthma. This factor is a key driver of the problem, and to minimize health risks and increase the safety of the target audience, appropriate solutions are to be found and justified from the perspective of convenience and effectiveness.
Potential Solutions to the Problem
Due to the development of technologies in healthcare and the introduction of digital tools in medical practice, the problem of medication compliance may be solved successfully through the use of electronic control mechanisms. Jochmann et al. (2017) remark that treating pediatric asthma with inhaled corticosteroids is one of the most common methods of controlling the disease. The authors offer to utilize digital programs that allow tracking the dynamics of the course of treatment and, at the same time, coordinate the administration of drugs by medical prescriptions (Jochmann et al., 2017).
This practice is convenient and does not require medical knowledge, which is an additional incentive for its wide dissemination. In addition, today, both adults and children use digital applications regularly, and electronic program maintenance skills can be useful. Such tools make it possible to input the necessary data and ensure that a child does not miss the stages of the course of treatment. An embedded notification system may remind take appropriate medications timely. As a rule, such applications have a clear and accessible interface, which is an additional benefit.
Such digital programs may be used in outpatient care when a child with chronic asthma is under parents’ supervision. As a significant finding, the results of the study by McWilliams et al. (2018) can be cited, who created an instrument called Carolinas Asthma Coach. According to the authors, this electronic program not only provides an opportunity to record the timely intake of drugs but also offers valuable educational functions (McWilliams et al., 2018).
The application contains guidelines for parents and includes recommendations based on the information that is entered into the program. Based on surveys that McWilliams et al. (2018) suggest, absolutely all users of this program note its convenience and recommend it as a successful development due to its high usability. As a result, this application and other similar digital tools can help maintain medication compliance in pediatric asthmatic patients and promote education as an important component of treatment courses.
The evaluation of the outcomes of using the considered application and any other digital tool that allows maintaining medication compliance can take place based on several assessment stages. Firstly, the opinions of stakeholders are to be taken into account. If the target audience, including pediatric asthmatic patients and their parents, confirms the convenience of utilizing virtual programs, this will be an additional incentive to promote such a practice in both outpatient and inpatient settings. Secondly, the results of this usage need to be compared with those without such applications. Higher treatment outcomes compared with a traditional medication mechanism will justify the relevance of digital tools. Both types of data are significant factors determining the value of the considered practice of medication compliance and its acceptability for the target group of patients.
One of the most convenient ways to disseminate the information about the convenience of using electronic tools of medication compliance is to interact with the clinic heads and demonstrate real performance results. Also, the data may be compiled in a separate scholarly study and printed in an academic journal so that a large audience could see the corresponding findings. In case clinics use such programs in their practice, parents of children with chronic asthma should be notified about the convenience of such applications. Additional advantages may be mentioned when disseminating the information, in particular, the possibility of education and the accuracy of notifications. All this information can be useful in promoting the findings among both the target audience and the medical community.
Digital applications that contribute to improving medication compliance in pediatric asthmatic patients are convenient programs to improve the quality of treatment and promote education. The aforementioned findings prove the relevance of implementing such tools for the target group of patients. The evaluation of the convenience of these applications may be based on feedback from stakeholders and the results of the intervention. The outcomes need to be shared with patients’ parents and the medical community.
Callaghan-Koru, J. A., Riekert, K. A., Ruvalcaba, E., Rand, C. S., & Eakin, M. N. (2018). Home medication readiness for preschool children with asthma. Pediatrics, 142(3), e20180829. Web.
Jochmann, A., Artusio, L., Jamalzadeh, A., Nagakumar, P., Delgado-Eckert, E., Saglani, S.,… Fleming, L. J. (2017). Electronic monitoring of adherence to inhaled corticosteroids: An essential tool in identifying severe asthma in children. European Respiratory Journal, 50(6), 1700910. Web.
Kim, C. K., Callaway, Z., Choi, J., Kim, H. B., Kwon, E. M., Chang, Y. S.,… Lim, D. H. (2019). Multicenter adherence study of asthma medication for children in Korea. Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Research, 11(2), 222-230. Web.
McWilliams, A., Reeves, K., Shade, L., Burton, E., Tapp, H., Courtlandt, C.,… Dulin, M. F. (2018). Patient and family engagement in the design of a mobile health solution for pediatric asthma: Development and feasibility study. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 6(3), e68. Web.
Myers, L., & Murray, R. K. (2019). Overcoming health literacy barriers to improve asthma inhaler therapy adherence. Annals of the American Thoracic Society, 16(2), 182-186. Web.