A virtual asthma care model to reduce unscheduled hospital presentations

Ryan Mackle Dr Ryan Mackle

Sydney Children’s Hospital

Dr Ryan Mackle is currently a paediatric trainee at the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick and a member of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP). He has extensive experience in childhood asthma management and paediatric respiratory medicine both in Australia and the UK. Ryan is an advocate for improving the health and wellbeing of children. He started his PhD at the University of New South Wales in 2022.

Project status: In progress

Grant Type: PhD scholarship


Asthma Australia is proud to support the careers of our future asthma researchers

This includes Dr Ryan Mackle, who is currently completing his PhD project.

“This Asthma Australia Scholarship gives me the invaluable opportunity to embark on research early in my paediatric respiratory career. I hope that through this PhD I can continue to make an ongoing impact in the care and management of childhood asthma.” – Dr Ryan Mackle

Ryan’s project is trialling a virtual model of care for children living in rural NSW who present to the emergency department for their asthma. It hopes to connect children and their families to the right care, regardless of where they live.

About the research

Ryan and the research team will test a virtual model of care in rural hospitals in NSW. Children with asthma who go to the emergency department because of their asthma, and have been previously in the last year, will be invited to take part in the study.

The children and their families will log their symptoms and medications online, which will be shared with their healthcare professionals. If the child has changes to their asthma symptoms, they will be flagged by the system for urgent review.

The children and their families will also have virtual home visits with their local asthma specialist nurse every 3 months, and a paediatrician every 6 months. These will be done using technology like Zoom or Facetime. In these sessions they will speak about their asthma symptoms and control, triggers in the home, and any concerns the families have.

“This funding of research into rural and remote communities is vital to improve equitable access to healthcare for all children with asthma.” – Dr Ryan Mackle

The researchers hope to show that this model of care improves family’s knowledge of asthma, empowers them to self-manage their asthma, and leads to better adherence to asthma medications.

Why was funding the research important?

In New South Wales there are more than 10,000 presentations to emergency departments for children with asthma every year. Each presentation can create significant stress for the child and families. Many presentations can also be prevented through the right education and care of children and families.

However, paediatric asthma specialists are only accessible in metropolitan hospitals and vulnerable rural children may be further burdened as a result.

This project aims to address this gap and build on previous research to provide a patient-centred approach that allows shared decision making and planning of asthma care remotely.