Smart inhalers are the best thing that has been introduced in today’s generation. Smart inhalers use Bluetooth technology to detect inhaler use, remind their patients when to take their medication and also gathers data to help guide care. They have the potential to improve patients’ adherence to asthma therapies and helps to keep their condition under control, but it is clear that they need to be designed with health systems and patients in mind sp that they can offer the maximum benefit out of it.
Five years ago in April 2014, a 13-year-old girl from England died from an asthma attack. Her GP had not referred her to a specialist or increased her medication despite her worsening condition in months leading up to her death. This tragedy was no isolated case. A National Review of asthma deaths that same year found two-thirds of the 1200 asthma deaths that happen in the UK.
The smart inhalers certainly will help the patients and will help them better adhere to the medication and keep on the top of their asthma. Smart asthma UK outlined its concerns about the need for health systems to plan ahead so that the full potential of smart inhaler technology can be realized. The future inhalers might alert its users to potential environmental triggers and, if used widely enough, big data analysis could help the researchers answer important questions about asthma and other respiratory disorders that require inhaled drugs, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. Managing competition between device manufacturers so that the devices and the data they gather are interoperable will be important.
Patients with asthma need two types of inhaled medication: to prevent attacks they take inhaled corticosteroids that dampen the inflammation that drives the disease, and when symptoms such as coughing or wheezing begin they use bronchodilators, known as rescue medication. Several companies are developing products that clip onto existing inhalers leading the pack is the United States-based company Propeller health.
Thanks to the advancement of technology that more people will be relieved from these kinds of attacks. Smart inhalers will help the people suffering from asthma a lot in the upcoming days. If smart inhalers are adopted quickly without addressing the shortfalls in the asthma care model, they might only paper over the cracks in the healthcare system that patients are falling. Smart inhalers can give a signal that a patients is overusing their preventer medicine, suggesting poorly controlled asthma. An informed and engaged clinician, though, can get the same signal without smart inhalers by looking at how much preventer or reliever medication a patient has used.
Future smart inhalers might help by monitoring and correcting a patient’s inhalation technique. Researchers have developed a device that attaches to GlaxoSmithKline’s popular Diskus inhaler. The device uses acoustic sensors to monitor technique and can detect errors in both time and technique of inhalation. For this future potential to come into fruition the data need to be freely available and shared. Free sharing of valuable data, however, is a concept not always associated with commercial organizations such as drug companies.