Create an Asthma-Friendly Work Environment | American Lung Association

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Create an Asthma-Friendly Work Environment

Learn how to make a business case for offering asthma programs, establish lung-friendly workplace policies and offer an employee asthma education program, which will help employees and family members with asthma better manage their conditions and experience fewer symptoms.

Making a Business Case for an Asthma Initiative

Missed work days and lost worker productivity due to asthma can be costly, be it individuals who live with asthma or parents whose children are affected. Investment in asthma education can save your organization money. A randomized clinic trial of adults with asthma that received educational interventions in the clinic, by phone or at home saved employers $36 in direct healthcare expenses and indirect costs for every dollar spent on the program.

Offer Comprehensive Asthma Benefits

Comprehensive coverage of healthcare expenses is needed for people living with chronic lung disease such as asthma and COPD to better control and manage their disease. Comprehensive care could include elements such as assessment and monitoring, comprehensive pharmacologic therapy, education and control of environmental factors.

A model benefit should:

  • Provide for assessment and monitoring of lung function, including pulmonary function test in the clinic and peak flow meters for self-monitoring at home.
  • Provide full access to a diagnostic test, including allergy testing, by allergist and specialist.
  • Reduce or eliminate co-pays to eliminate financial barriers that keep patients from taking appropriate medications, and properly managing their chronic lung disease.
  • Design formularies so that brand name drugs that have no co-pay are placed in a lower-cost category.
  • Reimbursement for multiple inhalers and spacers so patients may have access in multiple settings such as work and home, or if they live in multiple homes.
  • Provide longer clinical office visits so that patients may receive asthma education from trained staff.
  • Case management services for high-risk patients.
  • Environmental trigger reduction services, including education about environmental triggers, home assessments, supplies and smoking cessation.

Follow Standard Emergency Protocols

Standard emergency protocols should be established for employees that have a chronic lung disease or for employees that may develop respiratory distress unexpectedly. For employees with lung disease, this may include steps to take during a breathing emergency or asthma flare-up. Encourage employees to make their asthma action plan and COPD management plan available, especially if they have severe asthma so others may be able to help in an emergency.

Offer Asthma Education

Asthma education has been shown to increase adherence to asthma medications, reducing asthma symptoms and healthcare costs. Educational programs should include awareness of environmental factors and self-management with adherence to treatment programs.

Asthma education for all staff, especially supervisors of people living with asthma, may be beneficial so that everyone is prepared to respond to an asthma emergency.  In addition, parents of children with asthma can learn better asthma management techniques, which could decrease trips to the emergency room, missed workdays and healthcare costs.

  • The American Lung Association's Asthma Basics online learning module is a free resource for individuals that can be accessed at any time. Learn more about what asthma and its symptoms are, tips on better asthma management and medications, and more.
  • Breathe Well, Live Well: An Asthma Management Program for Adults helps adults understand and manage their asthma. This program is available as a new self-help guide, and can be ordered through your local Lung Association office.
  • Employees can connect to with a certified nurse or respiratory therapist through our free Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA or online chat.


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