Asthma self-management is far more than logging peak flow and medication use.
Asthma attacks can be triggered by allergies (such as pollen) or viral infections and it is important that everyone with asthma knows what to do if their symptoms or peak flows show that their asthma is getting worse. An action plan, agreed with their GP or asthma nurse, is therefore a particularly important component of self-management for people with asthma.
Other self-management support includes asthma education, communication with healthcare professions, lifestyle advice, help with medication adherence and (for some people) psychological treatments, and social support.
New technologies such as smart inhalers, smart peak flow meters, pollen or pollution sensors and other smart gadgets connect to the internet to collect and transfer data. When these emerging technologies work together to help people to manage their asthma, we called them ‘connected asthma’ technology or an internet-of-things (IoT) system’. Increasingly, artificial intelligence can use all this data and provide feedback and advice to help people and their healthcare advisors to take the right decisions.
We know that supported self-management for asthma leads to better day to day control of asthma symptoms, less time off work or school and reduces the risk of an asthma attack.
We have identified a number of technological features that could support asthma self-management in a future connected asthma system. Many people want technology to watch over them ‘silently’ (for example, using a smart inhaler which can watch how often they need rescue medication) so they don’t have to enter symptoms scores or readings every day.
We aim to design and test the ‘App for Asthma plus’ (A4A+) connected asthma system. This will be an IoT system that allows people with asthma to choose which devices they connect, if/when they want to share their information (for example with their doctor or nurse), and which is flexible so that new technologies can be connected later.
We have developed a prototype ‘app’, and asked people with asthma, and clinicians for feedback on A4A+ and how they thought new connected technologies might help. We also looked at whether they trusted the ‘connected asthma’ technology to help them look after their asthma.
We are now developing the platform and will be recruiting patients and clinicians to try out the platform. Recruitment will be opened in autumn/winter 2020.
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Professor Hilary Pinnock is the Principal Investigator and Dr Io Hui is the Co-Principal Investigator in this project. The team is supported by Professor Brian McKinstry, Mark Buchner (technology partner), Olivia Fulton (patient advisor), Susannah McLean (healthcare professional advisor) and Christopher Carlin (healthcare professional advisor), Simon Chapple (IoT advisor)
We thank Medical International Research and Smart Respiratory Products Ltd who provided devices for this research, and Findair and Polar Electro (UK) Ltd who provided API support.
We will use the Digital Health & Care Institute (DHI) simulation environment as part of the data interpretation workshop with stakeholders.
2019-current Medical Research Council Confidence in Concept
2018-2019 Asthma UK/CSO innovation grant
2014-2018 Chief Scientist Office (CSO) of the Scottish Government Chief Medical Officer (PhD Studentship)
Want to find out more? Please contact Dr Io Hui at firstname.lastname@example.org