In a recent Propeller Health study, we observed that patients with asthma who used a digital health platform had significant improvements in rescue inhaler use and self-reported activity rates over three months.
Data was captured using Propeller’s digital health platform, which includes an inhaler sensor that passively collects medication use data and a mobile app that engages patients in chronic condition self-management. To help keep patients and their clinicians informed about their asthma control status, the Propeller platform prompts patients to complete the Asthma Control Test™ (ACT™) within the mobile app on a monthly basis.1
One of the questions in the ACT™ asks patients to report their loss of activity at work, school or home over the previous four weeks – a criterion for assessing asthma control.
The 3-month observational study, which included 1,679 patients with asthma, saw an improvement in the proportion of patients who self-reported that their condition kept them from “getting as much done at work, school or at home.” The greatest lifts were observed among patients who experienced little to no disruptions in their daily routines due to their asthma.
The positive changes in activity rates were also accompanied by reductions in rescue inhaler use. The proportion of patients who used their rescue inhalers more than 5 times a week – another indicator of poor symptom control – decreased by 8% over the study period.
These results are promising, as asthma accounts for millions of missed days of school and work annually.2 While further work is needed to confirm the observations, digital health platforms that utilize inhaler sensors and mobile apps may be a feasible way to capture the impact of asthma on daily activities or productivity, and offer additional support for patients in self-managing their conditions.
By combining ACT™ scores and objective medication usage data, patients can better understand their asthma control status and medication-taking behaviors, and potentially use those objective insights to work more closely with their clinicians to improve their quality of life.
1 The Asthma Control Test™ (ACT™) is a five-question patient survey used to measure asthma control. The survey measures the elements of asthma control as defined by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
2 CDC (2013). Asthma Facts: CDC’s National Asthma Control Program Grantees.