Clinical Blog
Published: July 26, 2022

Chronic respiratory patients prefer seeking environmental information from mobile apps

Environmental factors, such as air pollution and pollen levels, are influences known to significantly impact overall health. For patients with chronic respiratory conditions, these environmental factors can be triggers that mark the difference between a symptom-free day and an emergency room visit.1,2 However, despite their known health impacts, little research had been done to understand how people with chronic respiratory disease perceive and seek information regarding environmental risks – until now.

A study recently published in Frontiers in Digital Health – one of the first digital health studies to survey and evaluate patient perceptions of environmental influences – demonstrated that a majority of patients with asthma and COPD believe that a handful of specific environmental factors may make their symptoms worse. 

An analysis of survey responses collected from nearly 700 participants, all of whom use Propeller’s precision digital health platform to manage their chronic respiratory conditions, showed that pollen, mold, second-hand smoke and air pollution were the leading environmental factors perceived by users to worsen their symptoms. 

Bar graph depicting responses of environmental factors that patients believe impact their symptoms

Fortunately, for the majority of study participants, acknowledging these common environmental risks did not reduce their sense of agency or desire to take control of their health, despite how prevalent they are. In fact, more than 60% of participants felt that they could personally do something to limit the impact of environmental factors on their respiratory symptoms. 

One of the actions that the majority of participants reported doing to mitigate the effects of their environmental exposures was trying to avoid their known outdoor triggers. Gathering daily environmental information can be a useful step in empowering patients to reduce their exposure to known triggers. 

Based on survey results, this approach appeared to be a common practice among participants, with 95% of participants with asthma and 98% with COPD reporting that they seek information about air pollution daily from a variety of sources. Participants used an average of three sources and demonstrated strongest preferences towards mobile apps and television programs. 

Bar graph depicting responses of how patients seek information about daily air pollution

These insights can be leveraged to better understand the unique needs of people with chronic respiratory disease, and help inform the development of solutions that will best support their care journeys. We must deliver resources to patients wherever they are most receptive to it – through digital media, for example – and provide the information they require to better educate themselves about their conditions and make sustainable behavior changes. It is also imperative to encourage patients to have meaningful discussions with their clinical providers, especially to ensure that their perceptions of triggers align with current clinical understanding.

Digital health apps, such as Propeller, can play a critical role in educating chronic respiratory patients about their conditions, and further empower them to learn about and avoid the environmental factors that can exacerbate their symptoms.

This study was sponsored by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) through funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Propeller can help improve outcomes for your chronic respiratory patients. Learn more now.

1Global Initiative for Asthma, Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention Report (2022)
2Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), Global Strategy for Prevention, Diagnosis and Management of COPD Report (2022)

You Might Also Like

Reducing Clinician Burnout: The Power of Using Digital Tools Effectively

It's no secret that health systems are feeling strained, with 47% of physicians experiencing symptoms of clinician burnout.1 An overwhelming amount of clinical data, jam-packed days with little time to connect with patients, and a lengthy list of responsibilities are leaving healthcare professionals feeling drained.

Clinician exhaustion can lead to reduced job satisfaction, increased turnover, and a decrease in the quality of care provided to patients. But burnout isn’t only harmful to teams — it can also cause financial strain on health systems. According to a study by the Annals of Internal Medicine, clinician exhaustion accumulates approximately $4.6 billion in costs due to turnover and reduced clinic hours.2

But when health systems use digital tools the right way, they can reduce the risk of clinician burnout and increase patient care coordination.

From 2010 to Today: Happy Birthday, Propeller!

Today marks an incredible milestone: Propeller Health's 13th birthday. What began as a quest to solve a public health problem has turned into a global precision digital health company driving meaningful, measurable change in the industry. 

Recognizing early on that creating value for all parties in health – health systems, clinicians, payers, and pharmaceutical companies – is essential in order to drive sustainable change, we’ve spent the past 13 years pioneering innovative solutions that always keep the patient at the center. Our story is one of hard work, dedication, collaboration, and above all, a mission to uplift every person living with a chronic disease so they can breathe easier, stay healthier, and live better lives. 

Propeller was founded on the heels of a then-mysterious string of asthma attacks in Barcelona in the 1980s. It took 8 years for experts to identify soybean dust – not yet recognized as an allergen – as the trigger. One CDC disease detective envisioned a better way to monitor public health: by using technology to track medication usage and symptoms. With this mission, Propeller was born. 

Coming to AAAAI 2023: Propeller’s latest asthma research

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) has accepted five abstracts examining the latest data from Propeller Health and ResMed.

Our findings on asthma care, which include analyzing the direct and indirect cost-savings associated with a digital intervention in uncontrolled asthma, will be presented at the AAAAI Annual Meeting on February 24-27. Read brief summaries of each abstract below or click the links to view them online.

Direct and indirect cost-savings associated with a digital intervention in uncontrolled asthma: A literature-based estimate