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.

A quarter of patients do not fill new prescriptions

As our regular Word on Health readers will know, I’ve had more than my fair share of trips to the pharmacy recently.  Painkillers, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories…the list goes on.  It’s not that I like taking tablets, I needed them.  Having taken time out of my busy life to see a doctor and get a prescription it would never occur to me to leave it languishing in the bottom of my purse.  However, according to a new study almost 1 in every 4 American’s does just that.

The study, published in the November issue of the American Journal of Medicine, evaluated more than 423,000 e-prescriptions written in 2008 for more than 280,000 patients. It was conducted by researchers at Harvard University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and CVS Caremark, who matched e-prescriptions with resulting claim data or those who did not claim prescriptions within 6 months.

What they found was that 24% of patients given a new prescription did not fill it. This percentage is higher than that seen in earlier studies.

While some recent research has used e-prescribing data to evaluate primary non-adherence, we were able to study a nationwide sample of patients. Our finding that 24% of patients are not filling initial prescriptions reflects slightly higher primary non-adherence than seen in earlier studies,” said Michael Fischer, MD, MS, with Brigham and Women’s and Harvard Medical School, and lead author of the study.

Most prior research about medication adherence could not review prescriptions that were never filled by patients. However, the advent of electronic prescribing has provided an opportunity to track initial prescriptions that may have been previously undetected and gives healthcare providers a broader look at patients who never fill their prescriptions.

Researchers said the factors that are predictive of primary non-adherence include:

  • the out-of-pocket cost of medications
  • socioeconomic factors
  • the integration of doctors’ health information systems
  • the types of medications.

Prescriptions that are sent directly to mail-order systems and pharmacies are more likely to be filled than e-prescriptions that doctors print out and give to patients, according to the study. The researchers found that medications for hypertension and diabetes resulted in primary non-adherence rates in excess of 25%, while prescriptions for antibiotics and medication for infants were almost always filled.

SRxA works closely with a number of leading health outcomes experts and specializes in providing effective patient adherence programsContact SRxA today to learn more.