Greater Manchester

Transforming asthma care & outcomes in GM

Standardised Asthma Review through Reduction in over-use of SABA & appropriate step down in over-treated patients in GM (STARRS-GM)

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

Asthma is a common condition in which the airways in the lungs become inflamed. This can lead to symptoms such as breathlessness, coughing and wheezing. It affects more than 5.4 million people in the UK, including around 200,000 people in Greater Manchester.

There is currently no cure, but there are treatments that can help keep the symptoms under control. People with asthma 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 more than three times a week should have their asthma reviewed to understand what is causing symptoms, adjusting treatments and supporting asthmas control methods.

Health Innovation Manchester is working with global pharma company AstraZeneca and software company LungHealth through the Standardised Asthma Reviews and Reduction in SABA model in Greater Manchester (STARRS-GM) project.

The STARRS-GM project aims to improve the outcomes for people living with asthma in the region through proactive identification and reviews with high-risk patients to optimise their asthma management. This includes:

  • 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 two products to improve the diagnosis, treatment and management of asthma. Both 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.

  • Fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) testing. A point of care test to measure type two inflammation in airways, which augments and supports the accuracy of asthma diagnosis.
  • Biologics for treating severe asthma. Biological therapies can transform patient lives by reducing long-term side effects of other treatments (e.g. oral corticosteroids (OCS)) and can also reduce the number of exacerbations and life-threatening asthma attacks.

The STARRS-GM project is initially taking place in 30 GP Practices in five localities in Greater Manchester in 2022.

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.

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