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Breathing easier: How digital therapeutics and remote patient monitoring improve asthma management

November 27, 2023
Business Affairs
Dr. Lucienne Ide
By Lucienne Ide

Patients diagnosed with diabetes or asthma find themselves in a unique position. While under the care of doctors for these chronic diseases, these individuals self-manage their condition day to day. For patients with diabetes, this means regularly checking their blood glucose and learning how to manage food and medications, including injections, to keep their blood glucose in range. Similarly, individuals with asthma learn to monitor themselves with peak flow meters and properly use maintenance and rescue inhalers to ensure asthma stays under control.

People with diabetes and asthma have had self-management tools for years to help them minimize the risks of their condition's serious side effects. Now, with greater adoption of digital therapeutics, patients do not have to go along this daily journey alone. Connected insulin pens, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and digital inhalers have made it easy for clinicians to see if their patients are properly managing their diseases. And with the reimbursement for remote patient monitoring, remote therapeutic monitoring, and CGMs, as well as the integration of the data from these devices into electronic health records (EHRs), clinicians can be more proactive in managing these conditions between clinic visits and helping patients lead healthier lives.

Asthma: The next frontier for connected health care
Pulmonary diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), rank among the top chronic diseases impacting Americans. About 26.5 million people – 8% of the population – have been diagnosed with asthma, while another 12.5 million are contending with COPD. Asthma alone accounts for more than 1.8 million emergency department visits and nearly 439,000 hospital inpatient stays. The impact of asthma is high, with about 10 people dying each day from asthma and healthcare costs totaling about $50 billion annually.

For something as potentially deadly as asthma and COPD, it seems counterintuitive that patients are largely responsible for managing their diseases on their own. They must monitor their respiratory function with peak flow meters, try to identify and avoid triggers and rely on regular drug therapies, including bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory agents, like inhaled corticosteroids, to maintain quality of life and prevent severe attacks. Taken as directed, these medications can improve asthma control and normalize lung function. However, as many studies have shown, a majority of patients – ranging from 50% to 80% – do not use their inhalers correctly, despite years of educational initiatives.

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