Improving asthma with smart technology

Published Online: January 8, 2016

Digital health is rapidly expanding for asthma management and includes mobile applications and electronic monitoring devices for asthma inhalers. These devices  accurately record the time each dose is taken and offer valuable information to help patients and physicians identify symptoms and potential triggers worsening their asthma. Many patients with asthma tolerate symptoms and lifestyle limitations because they do not utilize proven therapies or do not understand how to appropriately use their medications. Current NHLBI Guidelines suggest that patients who use Short Acting Beta Agonists (SABA) more than 2 days a week or more than 2 nights a month have uncontrolled symptoms. Accurately tracking SABA use may be beneficial to quantify asthma impairment and target patients for intervention.

Merchant et al report in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice that patients using the Propeller Health Asthma Management Platform saw a reduction in SABA usage. This platform utilizes sensors, mobile applications, and analytics to provide self-management and physician directed care to improve asthma symptoms and asthma control. The yearlong randomized controlled study monitored patient use of SABA in a real world clinical setting. The study involved both adults and children (N-495) and found that the total amount of SABA use, and the total number of days when SABA was needed, was lower in the intervention group compared to the patients receiving routine care. Furthermore, a significantly greater increase in the Asthma Control Test was demonstrated in adults with uncontrolled asthma in the intervention group compared to adults with uncontrolled asthma under routine care.

The Propeller Health platform provided detailed information about patterns of medication use and notifications about patients with worsening in asthma control. This real-time remote monitoring of SABA use improved patient and physician awareness of asthma control. Monitoring of controller medications in addition to SABA use may further improve asthma control. Additional studies looking at this combination are necessary to determine potential benefit and to demonstrate probable reduction in direct and indirect costs of asthma.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

Close-up of pine tree branches in Winter Close-up of pine tree branches in Winter