Clinical Blog
Published: November 30, 2021

Digital health solutions are shown to help improve asthma self-management. What about COPD?

Digital health solutions are beginning to transform chronic respiratory disease care.

Extensive research has demonstrated that the use of digital health tools can help people with asthma successfully self-manage their conditions. Several studies with asthma participants have shown that pairing a medical device to an associated digital platform (such as a mobile app or provider dashboard) can lead to positive health outcomes including increased medication adherence, decreased rescue inhaler use and lower symptom burden.1,2

However, far fewer studies have been conducted to understand how the use of digital health tools can impact those with COPD. With more than 15 million Americans affected by COPD3, a projected economic burden of nearly $50 billion dollars4 and a ranking as the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., Propeller believes that building this body of research will be instrumental in continuing to steer advancements in chronic respiratory disease care.

To help address this, the COPD Foundation and GSK collaborated with Propeller to conduct a 24-week pilot study with a COPD population. We sought to determine the extent to which people with COPD voluntarily engage with a digital health solution (the Propeller platform an inhaler sensor and mobile app) and how it impacted their medication adherence and rescue inhaler use over time.

The study had 122 participants who were recruited from the COPD Foundation’s COPD Patient-Powered Research Network (PPRN). At study end, we found that controller medication adherence was high, averaging 77% throughout the entire study period. For a subgroup of 51 participants who used rescue inhalers, they experienced a 10% decrease in rescue use and an 8% increase in rescue-free days.

When it came to app usage over the 24 weeks, we found that participants typically spent a little under 10 minutes per session engaging with app content. This could have included reading evidence-based health and breathing tips or learning more about their medication use patterns and triggers.

In addition to understanding medication adherence and app usage, our team was also interested in the overall participant experience. Using exit surveys and a focus group, we were able to assess participant sentiment toward the platform. Participants self-reported that they were overall very satisfied with the Propeller platform and found the inhaler sensor and mobile app easy to use and the audio-visual medication reminders helpful.

Infographic summarizing key takeaways from COPD focus group

Although more research still needs to be done, the results of this study signal an optimistic outlook for people with COPD using digital health solutions as part of their respiratory care plan. The positive feedback on the Propeller platform further reinforces the notion that with the right resources, people with COPD can feel more empowered to take control of managing their condition and potentially experience better outcomes.

To learn how Propeller can support your patients or health plan members with COPD, contact us at

1 Moore et al. (2021)
2 Merchant et al. (2016)
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on COPD (2021)
4 CDC on COPD Costs (2018)

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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