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Inhaler Sensors: Next-Level Asthma Care

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By Matt McMillenMarch 10, 2016
From the WebMD Archives

If you have asthma, you know that failing to take your medication on schedule can lead to worsening symptoms. It’s a common problem – as many as 70% of people with asthma have trouble keeping up with their drug routine, for a variety of reasons.

But inhaler sensors, the latest trend in asthma management, may make forgotten doses a thing of the past.

The devices attach to your maintenance and rescue inhalers and automatically note when you take a dose, send you reminders that it’s time to take another, and mark where and when you needed an emergency fix.

“Benefits range from improving medication adherence to reducing hospital admissions, which makes smart inhalers the next wave of respiratory care technology to improve patient outcomes,” Cassandra Perez of RT Magazine wrote in October.

And, according to a study published in the Lancet last March, kids who used an inhaler sensor had an 84% adherence rate compared to 30% among those who did not use it.

Propeller is a small, FDA-approved device that clicks into place on your inhaler and uses Bluetooth to communicate with your smart phone. It automatically logs your treatment so that you don’t have to type the info into an app yourself. And it will also transmit that data to your doctor and any others you designate.

“The time and location of the inhaler’s use could allow doctors to tell whether a patient is following the correct instructions for inhaler use, and if certain places or times trigger the patient’s asthma symptoms,” writes LiveScience’s Jesse Emspak.

Recent research shows that patients who use the Propeller device need their rescue inhalers less often than other asthma patients.

Smartinhaler™ is a similar device – also FDA-approved and by prescription only. Made by Adherium, an Australian company partnering with drug maker AstraZeneca, the Smartinhaler not only sends alerts, but also stores your data in a secure cloud environment.

Inhaler sensors appear to be welcome additions to asthma care, particularly if they prove able to increase patients’ adherence to their prescribed treatment. “Tools like these could help us make a pretty big dent in this important problem,” writes Satish Misra, MD, of iMedicalApps

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