How digital health can reveal if a patient’s asthma or COPD is under control

Digital health asthma COPD control

Digital health tools are used to track patient health data over time and provide insight into important trends overlooked when looking at single data points during a patient’s visit with a healthcare provider. The data collected by these tools has great potential when integrated with the patient’s clinical care — particularly if that patient has a chronic condition like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

When a clinical expert can review trends in patient data, they have the power to not only optimize treatment plans, but to intervene with patients who may be at high risk of an exacerbation. Propeller’s research team has been digging into this topic and recently presented their findings at the 2020 European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress, which was virtual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Insights into asthma control 

In one study, rescue and controller use patterns from 1,263 patients with asthma using Propeller were used to identify subgroups of patients with poor asthma control. Clinicians can use this objective data to enable highly targeted interventions. 

For example, patients with suboptimal inhaler medication usage, such as those with both high controller adherence and high rescue use (1.5% of the study population), may warrant training on inhaler technique and consideration for change or step up in therapy.

By identifying these different cohorts in a patient population, clinicians can focus efforts on the patients who need the most help. The data also helps clinicians better understand what types of intervention would help the patients in various subgroups. 

Monitoring COPD patients at scale 

In addition to gleaning population-wide insights about a set of patients, platforms like Propeller can also drive digital interventions with those patients at scale. 

In another abstract presented at ERS 2020, we studied 611 patients with COPD who were prompted to take their medications daily and complete a COPD Assessment Test (CAT)* once a month in the Propeller app. The patients demonstrated improved CAT scores and reduced rescue medication use over six months. 

Assessing how well patients are adhering to treatment and controlling their conditions is no easy feat, particularly in times of social distancing. With digital health platforms, clinicians have a way to stay connected with their patients — and patients have a way to stay engaged in their treatment — even when in-person visits aren’t an option. 

Questions about remote patient monitoring for asthma or COPD? Send us a note at

*The COPD Assessment Test (CAT) is an eight-question patient survey designed to measure the impact of COPD on a person’s life. It was developed by a multi-disciplinary group of international experts in COPD supported by GlaxoSmithKline.