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Data to the “rescue”: effectiveness of the reliever Digihaler system

Published: August 26, 2022

More than 60 percent of adults and 50 percent of children are not able to adequately control their asthma, leading to increased risk of exacerbations and asthma-related death. Frequent use of reliever inhalers and incorrect inhaler technique may, respectively, indicate and lead to poor asthma control, which affects patients’ quality of life and is associated with high-cost burden. In previously uncontrolled patients, switching to or adding digital inhaler monitoring devices has been shown to help reduce reliever inhaler use. The ProAir® (albuterol sulfate) Digihaler® is an FDA-approved digital inhaler with built-in sensor that wirelessly transmits data to a patient-facing smartphone App and subsequently to a healthcare provider-facing web-based Dashboard, via a cloud-based Digital Health Platform. The Digihaler, App, Digital Health Platform and Dashboard together form the Reliever Digihaler System (RDS).

A recent article by Flavia C. L. Hoyte, MD and colleagues and published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice reported the findings of the 12-week CONNECT1 study, which was carried out across 28 centers in the United States and included patients aged ≥13 years with uncontrolled asthma. CONNECT1 was the first study to explore the use of the RDS to improve asthma control compared with standard of care albuterol non-digital inhalers. The main study outcome was the probability of patients improving asthma control with the RDS compared with standard of care. Other outcomes assessed included differences in numbers of interactions with healthcare professionals (HCPs), and changes in reliever use between groups.

The CONNECT1 study included 333 patients. Overall, patients using the RDS had greater odds of clinically meaningful improvements in asthma control compared with standard of care. Patients using RDS also showed a reduction in use of their reliever inhalers over the course of the study, providing further evidence for improved control in this group. There were more reported HCP-patient discussions about inhaler technique and adherence to maintenance medications in the RDS group compared with the non-digital inhaler group. The RDS App and Dashboard were rated highly by patients and physicians, respectively. The authors conclude that important information from the RDS, including insights on frequency of reliever inhaler use and on patient inhaler technique, may help clinical decision-making and lead to timely interventions, rather than waiting for scheduled appointments, thereby helping to improve asthma control.

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

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