Calls for NHS to adopt digital asthma solutions

The UK’s National Health Service needs to adopt digital solutions to improve asthma care, according to Asthma UK chief executive Kay Boycott.

The comment was made in relation to the charity’s 2016 Annual Asthma Survey report, which found that two thirds of people with asthma are still not receiving basic care needed to manage their condition.

“With the 2014 National Review of Asthma Deaths reporting 2 out of 3 asthma deaths are preventable with good basic care, it is hugely disappointing that the latest Asthma UK care survey shows little has changed since that damning report,” said Boycott. “It is clear that expecting old ways to tackle long-standing problems won’t work.

“We must take a bold, new approach and take advantage of new asthma digital health solutions to transform the way asthma care is delivered and support self-management. Digital asthma action plans, smart inhalers, and automated GP alerts are just some of the ways asthma care could be brought up to date and help reduce the risk of potentially fatal asthma attacks.”

The report, based on answers provided by 4,650 survey respondents, also highlights concerns over care, with seven out of ten people not given a follow-up appointment post-hospital admission – an essential step in preventing readmission.

More than a quarter of respondents also claimed that their illness caused them to miss a week or more of work or education every year, whilst only 42% of respondents had been given an asthma action plan in 2016.

In regards to basic asthma care, only 28% of respondents living in London claimed they received it – the lowest in the UK.

“Good asthma care means having a thorough asthma review, being on the right medication, knowing how to use your inhaler correctly and having a written asthma action plan,” said Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UK’s Clinical Lead. “It is worrying that basic care is not being delivered on a consistent basis, because every person with asthma should be receiving this care.”

Chronic lung condition management is an area pharma has been fairly active in addressing over the past few years. In 2016 alone, both Boehringer Ingelheim and Novartis teamed up with Qualcomm to create ‘smart’ inhalers aimed at addressing medication adherence issues.

Both companies, along with GlaxoSmithKline and Vectura, have also been working closely with Wisconsin-based respiratory health software company Propeller to create attachable devices for their respective inhaler products.

The Propeller platform, which records adherence data and sends it to a mobile or web app, received its eighth FDA clearance in November but is yet to be approved in the UK.

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