Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research

BLOG SERIES – Asthma outcomes: Education perspective | Dr Linda Edwards

Dr Linda Edwards is the Chief Executive of Education for Health and she discussed the need for simplicity in the tools for clinicians to help create change in their patients

Illustration of Linda Edwards presentation
Illustration of Dr Linda Edwards' presentation from May 2020

I have always been passionate about the improvement of health outcomes and the potential primary care has in supporting people to look after their own health and wellbeing. Never has this it been more important than these last eighteen months; Covid has dominated our working and thinking, health care professionals have been exhausted, people have been afraid to go for their regular health checks and conditions have remained undiagnosed.

Over the years, the mantra I have often heard is ‘education is a luxury’; at Education for Health we have the opportunity to change that. Based on the experience I had working in primary care and more latterly at Asthma UK and Diabetes UK, I was very aware that using simple tools to demonstrate the impact of specific interventions was fundamentally important. Small improvements led to larger improvements and built confidence.

Combining knowledge (education) with know how (information and the correct tools) is key to effecting lasting change in clinical practice. At Education for Health, we have created an improvement cycle – creating an understanding of population profiling – upskilling professionals and supporting them by coaching into practice. Combined, these offer the real potential to create health improvements.

Creating an understanding of local populations

Individual practice profiles are used to assess the key interventions needed to improve health across the practice population. These can be aggregated to create a wider understanding of the local population (Primary Care Networks). Simple profiles easily identify the people and activities to target. We have created a suite of live profiling tools, asthma, COPD, CVD, diabetes, and obesity, helping practices to easily identify the people who would benefit from a simple intervention.

For example, the asthma primary care profile identifies measures that can easily be used align with annual asthma reviews. Simple measures such as, how many people are having their reviews? How many people are using asthma action plans? How many people are having an assessment of their level of control?

Upskilling professionals

Developing specialist skills or simply staying current in practice can seem a daunting experience, especially in current Covid times with the many additional pressures placed on health care professionals. Easily accessible bite sized training, enabling people to access the knowledge they need at the time and pace they need it, is essential. Flexible interactive programmes are key. We have created a new model of delivery called Interactive, Blended, Online Learning. This provides supported learning with live tutorials no matter what level of course.  Whether the education is a formal course- diploma, degree, post grad or a facilitated refresher; all can make a significant difference and that difference can be measured by profiling your practice population. Simply profile before attending a course and then again six months later to see the difference. A really simple way to measure success!

Coaching into practice

Providing one to one coaching support helps the translation of knowledge into know how; it provides a safe space to explore challenges and creates resilience; building confidence to effect the necessary changes to create the levers of health improvement.

The key for me is always to keep things simple, this builds success and confidence; creating tools and processes that can easily be incorporated into everyday practice.


Watch the webinar again

Watch our webinar ‘Why is the UK still struggling to significantly improve asthma outcomes?’ hosted in association with the Primary Care Respiratory Society.

Watch again on YouTube  


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