The online care concept Luchtbrug, an initiative of Radboudumc, is an effective way to monitor and supervise children with asthma. Following the use of Luchtbrug, children need to visit the hospital less often. Moreover, they can communicate more easily with their doctors and quickly view their individual care plan with information about medication and goals. It also provides an action plan in case of complaints. On 9 October, pediatric lung specialist in training Lara van den Wijngaart was awarded her PhD for her research into the use of Luchtbrug.
Since the outbreak of the corona virus, a lot of attention has been paid to remote care. However, children with asthma have been monitored online for years with Luchtbrug. In her doctoral research, Lara van den Wijngaart studied the effectiveness and efficiency of this approach.
Care via online monitoring
Routine check-ups for children and young people with asthma can be replaced by online communication. In her thesis, Lara van den Wijngaart showed that the quality of care and the quality of life are maintained with this online approach. In her PhD study, more than 200 children with asthma were divided into two groups. One group had physical check-ups every four months and the other group every eight months. The second group also had monthly on-line monitoring with Luchtbrug. The results showed that asthma control improved in the group that was monitored via Luchtbrug.
Van den Wijngaart: “Luchtbrug provides benefits for patients and their parents. It leads to more patient-oriented care and improved control due to more frequent monitoring. In addition, contact with doctors is more accessible. Another benefit is that the patients do not have to come to the hospital as often, so they do not miss school, sports or hobby activities, and their parents do not have to take time off from work.”
Many benefits for healthcare providers
The research also demonstrated many benefits for healthcare providers. Some of the tasks can be transferred from pediatricians to pediatric nurses. Consultation hours become more efficient because some of the information is already known online. Moreover, the doctors have a more comprehensive view of their patients due to the nearly continuous monitoring via Luchtbrug, and healthcare providers have more time for complex patients.
Luchtbrug now used in 18 hospitals
Luchtbrug is an ‘eHealth’ innovation that has the potential to save about 10 million euros per year in healthcare costs, and is now used in 18 hospitals. The Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZa) recently decided to allow reimbursement of online monitoring via Luchtbrug. An initiative of Radboud university medical center, Luchtbrug was made possible by support from the Longfonds and the Innovatiefonds Zorgverzekeraars.
About the PhD ceremony
PhD graduation ceremony of Lara Stefanie van den Wijngaart at Radboud University/Radboudumc in Nijmegen. Thesis title: eHealth in pediatric asthma - From promise to practice. Supervisor: Prof. Dr. C. Noordam, co-supervisors: Dr. P.J.F.M. Merkus and Dr. J. Roukema. Ceremony took place on 9 October 2020.