Failure of Administrative Data to Guide Asthma Care
Rationale: Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that is very common (7.9% of
Canadians over the age of 12). Despite numerous clinical guidelines, education events and administrative
data reviews, there has been little change to the way asthma is managed in the Canadian health care
system for nearly 30 years. We evaluated, through the Physician Learning Program (PLP) in Alberta,
possible reasons why administrative datasets have not been able to provide meaningful information to
adjust health policy.
Methods: Provincial data was attained through Alberta Health Service and Alberta Health on pulmonary
function testing from 2005-2011 (through the PLP). The number of asthma diagnosis made during the same
time frame were then compared.
Results: The preliminary results of the PLP found that spirometry was billed for roughly half as often as
the asthma diagnostic codes were utilized during the same time frame. However, the review also revealed
inconsistencies in how administrative data are captured, making it difficult to determine whether
spirometry is being underutilized by physicians in making asthma diagnoses.
Conclusions: Inconsistencies in how administrative data are captured in Alberta may be contributing
to an incomplete picture of the rates of asthma diagnosis and physiological testing, and may explain, in
part, the limited influence of administrative datasets on guiding meaningful change within the healthcare
Copyright (c) 2018 Joel Agarwal, Jennifer LaBranche, Jessica Cohen, Chris de Gara; Dilini Vethanayagam (Faculty Member/Supervisor)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Spectrum encourages authors to publish their work under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (CC BY 4.0) that allows others to distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the work, even commercially, as long as they credit the Author(s) for the original creation. Authors may, however, choose to have their work distributed under any of the Creative Commons licenses currently available by specifying their preferred licence in the publication agreement. The applicable Creative Commons license icon will appear on the title page of each published submission. A description of the Creative Commons licences is available here: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/