i-Nhaler i-Mprovement?

Asthma is one of the world’s most common chronic diseases, affecting some 300 million people and almost 5 percent of the world’s population. It’s also the 5th most costly condition in the US  – an estimated at $56 billion annually. But as we’ve reported here previously, a significant number of people with asthma either don’t use their asthma medications or use them incorrectly.

Improving asthma control is known to reduce the cost of treating asthma by eliminating unnecessary hospitalizations, ED visits, and office visits. The additional cost of an uncontrolled asthma patient compared to a controlled asthma patient is estimated at $3,000-$4,000  per patient annually.

So, we were interested to learn last week that the FDA approved a sensorized asthma inhaler that can track usage and transmit the data to a smartphone and the web. The manufacturer – Asthmapolis will begin to market the asthma sensor and both English and Spanish language versions of the companion software in the US very soon.

Our mission is to make it easier for patients and their physicians to do a better job of managing asthma with less effort than traditionally required.” said David Van Sickle, co-founder and CEO of Asthmapolis.

The small and lightweight device attaches to the end of most inhalers, and the app tracks the time and location of each medication discharge and reminds patients to use it if they forget.

In clinical studies of the Asthmapolis system, uncontrolled asthma declined by 50%, and more than 70% of patients improved their level of control.  In addition it can identify trends in a patients asthma triggers and symptoms over time and provide patients with personalized education on how to improve their asthma.

Not only will the device talk directly to the patients, physicians and other health care providers will be able to identify, in near-real-time, patients with uncontrolled disease and attend to them before they suffer a severe exacerbation.

Despite all we know about asthma and how to treat it, the majority of patients still do not have the disease under control, and traditional approaches to self-management have been time-consuming and complicated,” said Inger Couture, chief regulatory officer of Asthmapolis. “The Asthmapolis technology makes it much easier to track symptoms and use of metered dose inhalers, allowing patients, their families and their doctors to gain a valuable new perspective on the disease.”

And that can only be a good thing.

Your Life in “It’s” Hands

Videoconferences may be known for putting people to sleep, but never quite like this.

In a world first, Canadian scientists, last week treated patients undergoing thyroid surgery in Italy –  remotely from Montreal.  The approach is part of new technological advancements, known as Teleanesthesia.

The operations involved a team of engineers, researchers and anesthesiologists who controlled the administration of anesthetic agents from thousands of miles away using an automated system.

Four strategically placed video cameras monitored every aspect of patient care in Pisa, Italy, in real time.

Ventilation parameters, such as the patient’s breathing rate, vital signs (ECG, heart rate, oxygen saturation) and live images of the surgery were monitored by each camera, with the fourth used for special purposes.

A remote computer station known as the ‘anesthesia cockpit’ handled the audio-video link between the two centers. Prior to the operation, an assessment of the patient’s airway and medical history was performed via video-conferencing.

For those people concerned that computers can and do go wrong, chief investigator Dr. Thomas  Hemmerling offers the following reassurance, “Obviously, local anesthesiologists can override the process at any time.”

SRxA’s Word on Health will be monitoring all developments!