Research review: Asthma apps not yet tapping full potential


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An evaluation of a dozen research efforts on mobile asthma apps reveals that just three of 12 showed better asthma control capability by patients.

What's more, overall clinical effectiveness was varied, according to the article, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA).

"[T]hese studies of multifaceted interventions did not provide clear evidence on which of the range of [information and communication technology] features were essential for effectiveness," the authors said. "Furthermore, the lack of technical specifications of the ICT systems evaluated in the clinically focused publications with health outcomes did not allow understanding of the design factors of the systems, which may have affected how they operated or were used by patients and professionals. Finally, no matter how well designed the ICT is, it will not be effective if patients do not adopt it and continue to use it."

Providing asthma patients a self-management tool is of interest to providers and caregivers as such tools prove valuable for providers. For example, Children’s Health has seen a 50 percent reduction in emergency department readmissions for asthma patients using the My Asthma Pal app. And in June, a North Carolina State University research team debuted a wearable tracking system ready for testing that monitors heart rate, lung function and environment factors to help asthma patients avoid attacks.

Additionally, at the start of 2016, Southern Methodist University and the University of Maryland researchers began testing a wearable device to help pediatric patients by monitoring monitor and tracking pollen levels, carbon dioxide in blood and physical activity, as well as emotional state and breathing patterns.

The research article notes that more robust studies are needed to establish long-term effectiveness of asthma management apps.