OF ALL AUSTRALIANS WITH ASTHMA, RESEARCH SUGGESTS THAT IN AT LEAST 45%, THEIR CONDITION IS UNCONTROLLED. THIS PLACES UNNECESSARY STRAIN ON THE AUSTRALIAN HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, RESULTS IN FLARE UPS, REDUCED WELL BEING AND IN SOME INSTANCES, DEATH.

However, despite effective medications to control asthma symptoms which are subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, asthma preventer medicines are underused in Australia.

Through previous research Asthma Australia has been involved in, we know that cost is a factor influencing adherence to asthma preventer medications. We know that people managing asthma are either not using preventer medications (at all or consistently) because of cost or forgoing other basic needs to pay for their medications. We found that while cost is an important factor, is it not the dominant consideration in choice of asthma preventer. We also know that there is a lack of shared decision making between GPs and consumers when it comes to prescribing asthma medications, GPs are unaware of the cost of asthma medications, and people with asthma don’t feel they have a choice in their treatment plan.

To challenge the current ways of thinking, Asthma Australia have engaged The Social Deck to embark on a human-centered co-design approach to tackle this issue. This includes understanding the current evidence base, identifying assumptions, exploring the user experience through consumer consultation, collating insights, brainstorming ideas and co designing solutions that can be tested with users. This agile approach allows deeper, more surprising insights to be gained and issues to be re framed in ways that more traditional research methods may not be designed to incorporate.

In June, we conducted four focus groups with people with asthma and their carers in Victoria to gain insights into people’s lives and identify new ways of thinking.

We are now planning a stakeholder workshop, where we will bring together a select group of consumers, medical professionals, experts, advocates and peak body representatives to further define or re frame the issue and generate creative solutions. Later in the year we look forward to sharing the outcomes of this exciting project.