MADISON, Wis. – Clinical guidelines for assessing asthma control set years ago may need to be updated to reflect the digital transformation of health care, according to new research from digital therapeutics company Propeller Health.
The research, done in partnership with the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado and published recently in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, shows that both patients and providers gain a more accurate view of a patient’s medication use when digital sensors record the number of “puffs” of rescue medication that were used.
The findings show how objective digital data can be used to more accurately measure and assess asthma control, compared to patient-reported data that depends on patient recall and can be skewed by recall bias and health care provider interpretation of the data, said Dr. David Stempel, senior vice president of medical affairs for Propeller Health.
The new evidence suggests that occasions of rescue use, recommended in the 2009 American Thoracic Society and European Respiratory Society Task Force report as a method for assessing asthma control, be reconsidered. Specifically, the data indicates that there is no clear, natural definition of an “occasion.” In comparison, the reporting of puffs is objective and more easily standardized in clinical practice, paralleling the recommendation for clinical research, Stempel said.
“The digital era gives us a new way to gain a much better understanding of the overuse of rescue medication,” he said.
In the study of more than 3,000 patients, Propeller Health used its digital medicine platform to connect patients’ inhalers with an attached sensor that reports the date and time of inhaler use. Using data from the platform, Propeller was able to objectively assess how many puffs a patient took of their rescue medication, giving a more accurate picture of their medication use.
The findings of the study and the advent of digital medicine is allowing for improved conversation between the patient and health care provider, said Stempel.
“Hopefully the patient will be the big winner because it will mean better care,” he said.