Improving the diagnosis and management of adult asthma patients across Greater Manchester

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Health Innovation Manchester is collaborating with industry and pharmaceutical partners to pilot a project, improving the diagnosis and management of adult asthma patients across Greater Manchester.

Health Innovation Manchester has a joint working agreement with AstraZeneca UK and is working through the Standardised Asthma Review and Reduction in SABA model in Greater Manchester (STARRS-GM) using LungHealth software, via National Services for Health Improvement (NSHI). The project aims to improve the outcomes for adults living with asthma in the region, through proactive identification and reviews with high-risk patients to help optimise their asthma management.

Asthma is a common condition in which the airways in the lungs become inflamed, which can lead to symptoms such as breathlessness, coughing and wheezing. In the UK over 8 million people, or approximately 12% of the population, have been diagnosed with asthma. However, some may have grown out of the condition and 5.4 million people in the UK are receiving asthma treatment, including around 200,000 people in Greater Manchester.

Though there is currently no cure, patients are usually prescribed ‘preventer’ inhalers to treat airway inflammation and ‘reliever’ inhalers to temporarily relieve symptoms by relaxing airway muscle.

Frequent use of Short acting beta agonist (SABA) inhalers (also known as blue reliever inhalers) can reflect that a patient’s asthma is not well controlled and could be at risk of asthma attacks. Patients using their reliever too often should have their asthma reviewed to understand what is causing symptoms, adjusting treatments, and supporting asthmas control methods.

The STARRS-GM project is initially taking place in 30 GP Practices in five localities in Greater Manchester during 2022, which focusses on:

  • High quality, consistent, AI-guided asthma consultations through the LungHealth software
  • A focus on high-risk patients (those over-reliant on SABA or on high dose inhaled corticosteroid therapy (ICS))
  • Education for health care professionals and patients
  • Consultant-led multi-disciplinary team (MDT) and streamlined referrals to specialist services.

The project will also utilise products to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and management of asthma. Innovations are part of Accelerated Access Collaborative’s Rapid Uptake Products Programme, which identified and supports acceleration into the NHS products with NICE approval that support the NHS Long Term Plan’s key clinical priorities.

The project will also aim to have an environmental impact. Medicines account for up to 25% of emissions within the NHS, with inhalers making up 3% of these emissions. The Delivering a Net Zero NHS policy outlines possible interventions including optimising prescribing, substituting high carbon products for low-carbon alternatives, and improvements in production and waste processes.

Professor Ben Bridgewater, Chief Executive at Health Innovation Manchester, said: “It is a pleasure to be able to work in partnership with industry once again to improve the experience of care for patients in Greater Manchester. The use of this technology will allow those who suffer with this common condition to better manage and review their health.

“This type of partnership work is exactly what we at Health Innovation Manchester see as a top priority. By utilising the expertise of industry in collaboration with our local health and care system, we can work to improve patient pathways, equality and access to treatments whilst boosting environmental sustainability.”

Dr Binita Kane, Consultant & Respiratory Programme Lead, Health Innovation Manchester, said: “Greater Manchester has some of the worst asthma outcomes in the UK. We are hoping that this project which involves identifying those at highest risk and offering reviews, supported by software that helps guide clinicians, will start to change the narrative”.

Eddie McKnight, Managing Director at National Services for Health Improvement (NSHI), said: “We are pleased to be one of the collaborators with Greater Manchester on the STARRS GM project, Greater Manchester has four of the most healthcare deprived local health authorities in England. This inequality means that people with asthma in Greater Manchester have some of the worst asthma outcomes in England.

“To help address this, the STARRS GM project, will provide participating practices with LungHealth decision support asthma software that will ensure that adult patients receive a complete and thorough asthma review, regardless of the experience of the reviewing clinician, with onward referral to specialist services if required. Patients will also be provided with a personal asthma action plan to help improve their concordance with treatment.

“We firmly belief that by pro-actively targeting ‘high risk patients’ and offering reviews that asthma outcomes in Greater Manchester will be greatly improved and that we will see patients’ reliance on their reliever medication reduced due to better asthma management. This in turn could reduce asthma flare-ups and avoidable hospital admissions. We believe that the STARRS-GM project will deliver a sustainable legacy of care to ensure improved asthma outcomes for Greater Manchester in the future.”

Tom Keith-Roach, President at AstraZeneca, said: “Core to our strategy at AstraZeneca is our focus on developing sustainable NHS partnerships, in areas of highest healthcare deprivation, to help improve outcomes for patients with long term conditions. Our ambition to reduce asthma attacks is a key focus area, and so we are delighted to partner with Health Innovation Manchester through the STARRS-GM project, which aims to improve asthma outcomes in Greater Manchester to optimise asthma management in high-risk patients.”


The STARRS-GM project has been developed as part of a Joint Working Agreement between Health Innovation Manchester and AstraZeneca UK.

Date of Preparation May 2022 GB-36492.

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