As many as 50 million people in the United States suffer from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). With both conditions, airways swell and obstruct breathing. Patients typically carry inhalers that they use when their airways start to close. These inhalers deliver medication to relieve the swelling and allow freer breathing. The frequency with which patients use their inhalers and the time of use can indicate the current level and control of asthma and COPD. Because recording information about inhaler use relies on the patient stopping whatever else she or he is doing, data gathering can suffer. Without accurate information about inhaler use, care teams are less able to optimally monitor and adjust patients’ care, which can result in sub-optimal control of the either condition.
Propeller Health’s Propeller sensor fits on top of standard inhalers and records usage frequency, time, and even location, sending the data via Bluetooth wireless signal to an iOS or Android smartphone. This data not only allows the patient to better manage their usage information but also provides an easy and accurate way to report inhaler use to care teams. Based on the data collected, the Propeller app also gives feedback and provides education about inhaler usage. Because the apps can be set up to share data you can have the information automatically sent to children’s parents and other family members as well as healthcare professionals. Earlier this year we wrote about CareTRX, another sensor that works with standard inhalers with a different feature set.
Separately, Propeller Health has recently announced a research and development collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for to develop and manufacture a custom version of the Propeller sensor to work with GSK’s dry powder inhaler, Ellipta. Collaboration with the world’s 6th largest pharmaceutical company underscores the acceptance of the Propeller solution.
Assisting patient self-care management while simultaneously improving reporting to health care teams is a win-win. Wider study and adoption of newer health tech solutions by mainstream medical and pharmaceutical companies is a growth step as the newer companies move toward wider, much larger markets. This potential growth will add more fire to the already hot wearable health tech market.