MADISON, Wis. – [March 23, 2012] – Asthmapolis announced today that it will be participating in a yearlong study to help the city of Louisville, Ky. better understand what is causing asthma attacks in the region and to help patients better manage their illness. The study is being funded by Norton Healthcare, Owsley Brown Charitable Foundation and The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, with the organizations contributing $37,500, $37,500 and $75,000, respectively.
Beginning in May, the company will provide up to 500 Louisville residents with its new inhaler sensor, which works with mobile phones to record the time and location of every inhaler use. The study will also include assistance from IBM, which has selected Louisville to receive about $400,000 in technical support for the research as part of its “Smarter Cities Challenge.”
“We are excited to be able to contribute our inhaler sensor technology toward the city of Louisville’s efforts to collect newer, more reliable data about when and under what conditions asthma attacks are occurring,” noted David Van Sickle, co-founder and CEO of Asthmapolis. “With estimates of 100,000 asthma sufferers in the Louisville area, getting a better handle on what is causing attacks and being able to help patients better manage their disease can really have a huge impact.”
The Asthmapolis sensor sits on top of emergency inhalers that are used by asthma patients in the event of a severe attack. When an inhaler is used, the sensor works with the patient’s cell phone to transmit the time of the attack to the company’s computer network. If the patient’s cell phone is equipped with global-positioning software, it will also send the location. In addition providing valuable data that can be used to determine trends at the public health level, the device also allows physicians to remotely monitor their patients’ adherence to prescribed medications and to assess their level of disease control.
IBM will provide expertise in helping Louisville identify and analyze large volumes of data from a variety of sources, including air quality, pollen outbreaks and traffic congestion, which can be compared with the information from the participants’ inhalers.
“This project is unique because it brings together innovation, public health and data to help better understand our problems with asthma,” said Ted Smith, director of Louisville’s Department of Economic Growth and Innovation. “The brain power that IBM will bring to our city is even more valuable than dollars, and will put Louisville at the forefront of innovation around a very important local issue.”
Louisville ranks high among U.S cities in both allergens and poor air quality, two major triggers of asthma; the number of days the city exceeded federal smog standards tripled between 2005 and 2011. According to a 2009 survey, 15 percent of adults surveyed in Louisville reported they had asthma—higher than the state rate of 14.9 percent and the national percentage of 13.5.
Physicians from the University of Louisville are also involved, helping to determine which patients should be invited to participate.
“It is our pleasure to be a part of this landmark initiative,” said Dr. Nemr Eid, Director of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at the University of Louisville. “You always get a better grasp on things when public health, academia and industry are working hand in hand. Hopefully we will be able to translate data points into clinically useful correlates.”
Asthmapolis has previously conducted two pilot projects with the sensors in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each with about 40 patients. One was in Wisconsin, and the other was in rural areas across several Midwestern states.
Asthmapolis was founded in 2010 with the goal of improving the management of asthma for patients and healthcare professionals. The company’s inhaler sensors, mobile applications and other tools enable asthma patients and their physicians to gain more awareness of asthma control and understanding of triggers, while also providing public health researchers with timely, comprehensive and objective data on the burden of asthma in communities. Asthmapolis has partnered with organizations such as the Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California HealthCare Foundation, Dignity Health and others.