Innovative Methods for Health Access: The Breathmobile

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How to provide access to low income children with asthma?

There are a number of obstacles in the way: They may not have health care plans which pay for doctor visits and medications, their parents may not be able to take time off from work to get to the doctor’s office or the pharmacy on a regular basis, asthma management plans may be difficult to stick to with busy schedules and intermittent access to medications, asthma may not even be identified in the first place.

Enter the Breathmobile, a program through the UCLA and USC medical schools:

A large vehicle parked in front of a children's hospital. The side has 'Breathmobile' in big letters, and the vehicle is decorated with pictures of children.

If you can’t get children to the doctor, why not bring the doctor to the children? The Breathmobiles have roaming schedules which allow people to make regular appointments by traveling only a short distance to meet up with the van. The vans are stocked with donated medications and staffed with doctors and nurses who evaluate asthma and allergy patients.

Children are evaluated on their first visit to develop an asthma plan which will treat them in the short term and stabilize them in the long term. For patients who have regular physicians, the Breathmobile will send updates.

This is a pilot program which is tested to see if it should be rolled out in other low-income areas in the United States and I think it’s pretty brilliant. Mobile medical care would be extremely useful not just for people with asthma, but people with other conditions including many people with disabilities. Going to the doctor’s office for a routine appointment which could easily be handled at home or in a mobile medical clinic like this eats up a lot of energy and time and can become a significant barrier to access. I would really love to see more mobile clinics on the roads.

The best part?

…bills for treatment are sent to insurers if patients have insurance, but no bill is sent to the family if the insurer does not cover the charges. “The program is open to anyone, whether you have insurance or not, and whether someone is under care for asthma or not,” Jones says.

About s.e. smith

s.e. smith is a recalcitrant, grumpy person with disabilities who enjoys riling people up, talking about language, tearing apart poor science reporting, and chasing cats around the house with squeaky mice in hand. Ou personal website can be found at this ain't livin'.

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