Patients, Users & Beyond

Patients, Users & Beyond

The pan-European app that’s helping asthma suffers self-manage their condition



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Nine months into a pan-European venture to launch an app that will help patients with their asthma management, inform doctors and possibly feed into wider research on breathing difficulties, Jenny Sims finds out how myAirCoach is progressing

asthma management

A lot rests on the outcome of the EU-funded €4.5million myAirCoach research project, in which mHealth tools are being developed to help people affected by asthma, allergy and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) manage their own care. If successful, it could benefit more than 30 million people in the EU who have asthma. But it’s also hoped that the system might provide a template for the widespread adoption of sensor-based, self-management systems across the spectrum of respiratory diseases.

Facilitating asthma management

myAirCoach sensors will collect clinical, environmental and behavioural data to help improve the patient’s asthma management abilities. Measurements taken will include pollution and pollen levels, tracking when and where patients take their medication, and lung function. The aim is that myAirCoach will be able to give personalised advice based on a patient’s day-to-day activities and symptoms.

Launched in January 2015, the three-year, pan-European project is funded by an EU Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 grant and involves an impressive consortium of research centres, academic institutions, private medical enterprises and patients’ organisations in six different countries: the UK, Greece, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium. Project coordinator, Dr Konstantinos Votis from the Greek Information Technologies Institute says: ‘The project’s vision is to provide a unified solution that will empower patients in their asthma management and enable doctors to help them more effectively and efficiently.’

‘More than 30 million people in the EU have asthma’

Dr Votis outlined the myAirCoach project in a presentation to the International Society for Aerosols in Medicine (ISAM) congress in Munich, recently. His key points were:

  • The development of a novel inhaler device with sensing and processing capabilities will allow for the accurate assessment of patients’ conditions and the proper use of medication.
  • Innovative signal processing and visualisation methodologies will help annotate the collected data and present it to patients and doctors.
  • Modern modelling and prediction approaches to asthma will be used to create personalised decision support tools that help optimise the diagnosis and treatment process.
  • The use of the modelling framework will also aim to support the research and testing of new treatment approaches.
  • The creation of an online virtual community platform will stimulate interactions between patients, and strengthen and simplify communication between patients and healthcare professionals.
  • The project will also aim to educate and train patients about asthma and the proper use of inhaled medication.

Dr Votis concluded: ‘A fundamental part of the project is the integration of the above functionalities with a modern, easy and intuitive mobile app that will allow patients and doctors to assess the system during their everyday lives.’

About the author

Jenny Sims is a freelance writer and editor specialising in healthcare management and policy. Follow her at @Jenny__Sims.

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