The CHEST Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American College of Chest Physicians, recently funded a BCM’s researcher’s project to revolutionize Spirometry tests. Spirometry, also known as a lung function test, is considered to be the oct effective means of diagnosing and determine asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) severity, in spite of the fact that primary care practitioners seldom use it. Dr. Nick Hanania, associate professor of medicine in the section of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, has plans to develop a new spirometry toolkit.
The three-year, $150,000 funding from The CHEST Foundation will enable Dr. Hanania to develop a toolkit for primary care practitioners that will guide them in the use of spirometry for diagnosing and managing airway diseases. “Practice guidelines for both asthma and COPD advocate spirometry as a tool for diagnosing and staging the disease and by doing that, the physician can pick the right treatment,” said Hanania. “There are many misconceptions out there about using spirometry.”
Hanania claims that misconceptions about the test, such as its difficulty level, test result interpretation, time it takes to conduct, and whether the test is reimbursable by insurance companies, are all contributing factors to why the test isn’t being widely used, in spite of its proven effectiveness. The test is in fact reimbursable by insurance, and it need not be administered only by practitioners, but also by other members of their medical staff.
It is this set of misconceptions that Dr. Hanania hopes to overcome by using his proposed toolkit as a kind of continuing educational program in spirometry for primary care physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, which will be available on a multimedia platform and outline the benefits of the test, as well as its ease of use.
Dr. Hanania explained it this way: “We don’t treat patients with diabetes without testing their blood sugar, and we don’t treat patients with blood pressure problems without measuring blood pressure, so why should we be diagnosing and treating patients with airway disease without measuring their numbers?”
Photos from NIH, BCM