ResMed Buying COPD, Asthma Sensor Company Propeller Health

Allison Inserro

Propeller Health, a digital health company that makes sensors to track patient use of respiratory inhalers used for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, is being snapped up by ResMed, which makes connected devices for respiratory care.

After the $225 million deal closes, Propeller Health will continue to operate as a standalone company. ResMed is making the purchase to enter the digital market for COPD and asthma. ResMed makes sleep apnea devices, ventilation devices, and portable oxygen concentrators. ResMed, which operates in 120 countries, says 6 million patients are monitored remotely through its cloud-connected continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices and ventilators.

Propeller’s digital sensors attach to existing inhalers in an effort to improve health outcomes by automatically tracking medication use. The sensors are paired with a mobile app, and provide personal feedback and insights that help individuals manage and cope with symptoms. The company said its sensors show a 58% improvement in medication adherence, a 48% increase in symptom-free days and a 53% reduction in emergency room visits.

It is difficult to predict which patients with COPD will end up in the emergency department, or which ones will have a second exacerbation within days of the first. Propeller is one of many digital therapeutics and digital health companies trying to improve outcomes for patients with COPD and asthma and other chronic diseases. By collecting data on how patients manage their disease day to day or view other factors that may impact health, providers can see how well patients fare with daily adherence to respiratory controller medicines, which can be challenging for patients with COPD or asthma to manage.

ResMed’s current COPD offerings include noninvasive ventilation at home devices, which are used by patients with more advanced forms of COPD.

“Acquiring Propeller is a significant step for ResMed toward becoming the global leader in digital health for COPD," Mick Farrell, ResMed’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “By working with Propeller’s existing partners to offer digital solutions for respiratory care pharmaceuticals and building on our proven ability to support digital solutions at scale, we can positively impact the lives of even more of the 380 million people worldwide who are living with this debilitating chronic disease.”

The company has said its cloud-connected apnea devices improve patient adherence to therapy (up to 87%, when combined with an app) and saves almost 60% of clinician time on patient management.

One study last year found that CPAP devices were able to help patients with COPD reduce hospitalizations.
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