Electronic Inhaler Monitoring Reduces COPD Hospitalization

June 30, 2019

A study from the Cleveland Clinic found a significant drop in hospitalization of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) using electronic inhaler monitoring and a disease management program.

Electronic inhaler monitoring combined with a disease management program was associated with reduced hospitalizations in patients with chronic pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a new study published in The Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare.

Using an inhaler with an electronic monitoring device that sends alerts to a patient's smartphone in conjunction with a disease management program was shown to significantly reduce healthcare utilization in patients with COPD. The third leading cause of disease death in the United States, COPD is a family of diseases that include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema due to α-1 antirypsin deficiency. Among study participants, the average number of hospital trips dropped from 3.4 the year prior to 2.2 during the program. The study also observed a reduction in all-cause healthcare utilization but was shown not to be statistically significant.

The study followed 39 individuals with a mean age of 68.6 years between October 2016 to May 2017. All the individuals had COPD and high healthcare utilization. Electronic inhaler monitoring was conducted for a mean of 280.5 days. For 1 year, patients were provided with an electronic monitoring device and rescue inhalers.

Propeller Health provided the monitoring platform, which connects a small sensor to the patient's inhaler and sends data to the user's smartphone. It delivered alerts and information on medication adherence and usage trends. All the data was then emailed back to the researchers, who were able to gain insight on users rescue inhaler and controller medication use.

"We prescribe inhaled medications for patients with COPD all the time. It's really the cornerstone of their therapy, and when they return to the clinic we do ask them whether they're using their medications, but the reality is we never know how adherent patients are objectively," lead investigator Umur Hatipoğlu, MD, a Cleveland Clinic pulmonologist, said in a statement. "Electronic inhaler monitoring allows us to assess inhaler adherence at the point of care."

More than 11 million people in the United States have COPD; however, millions more may be undiagnosed. No cure currently exists.

Reference

Alshabani K, Attaway AA, Smith MJ, et al. Electronic inhaler monitoring and healthcare utilization in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [published online May 16, 2019]. J Telemed Telecare. doi: 10.1177/1357633X19850404.