Inhalers have long been used by those suffering from respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD to deliver medication directly to the lungs. However, traditional inhalers have some significant limitations that smart inhalers aim to address.
What are Smart Inhalers?
A smart inhaler, also known as a digital inhaler or connected inhaler, adds technology features to traditional inhalers to help track medication use, provide alerts and reminders, and allow for remote monitoring by physicians. These smart inhalers connect wirelessly, usually via Bluetooth, to a companion smartphone app.
Benefits of Smart Inhaler Technology
Smart inhaler technology offers several important benefits over traditional inhalers:
Improved Medication Adherence
One of the major issues with traditional inhalers is that patients often fail to take their medication as prescribed. Smart inhalers address this by tracking when the inhaler is used and how many doses were administered. This allows patients and doctors to monitor adherence in near real-time. Sensors in the inhaler confirm proper inhalation technique was used. Alerts and reminders also help ensure doses are not missed.
Remote Monitoring Capabilities
Through the connected app, physicians can remotely download medication use data from the smart inhaler. This gives doctors insights into a patient’s condition between office visits. Problems with adherence or worsening symptoms can be identified and addressed sooner through remote monitoring. Physicians can also optimize treatment plans based on the detailed medication use data.
Customized Support Tools
Smart inhaler apps offer educational tools and action plans tailored specifically for a patient’s condition. Resources are available right on the smartphone to help with proper inhaler technique, medication schedules, triggers and how to manage flare-ups. Charts and graphs allow patients to track their own progress.
Connected Care Teams
Data from the smart inhaler is accessible not just by physicians but also nurses, pharmacists, family members and caregivers as authorized by the patient. This facilitates more coordinated care between a patient’s entire care team. Issues can be identified and addressed quickly by the appropriate clinician.
How Smart Inhalers Work
At their core, Smart Inhalers work much like traditional inhalers to deliver medication. But integrated sensors, Bluetooth connectivity and data analytics set them apart:
– Sensors confirm inhalation and track dose administration time and number of doses taken. This data is stored locally in the inhaler.
– When prompted by the app or on a pre-set schedule, the inhaler wirelessly transmits medication use data via Bluetooth to the linked companion smartphone app.
– The app displays the information and medication adherence graphs/charts. It allows setting alerts/reminders and contains educational/tracking tools.
– Through internet connectivity, the medication use data stored remotely on a secure server can be accessed by authorized clinicians to monitor patients anytime.
– Doctors can optimize treatment plans based on analysis of actual medication use patterns uploaded from multiple patient inhalers over time.
Leading Smart Inhaler Models
Several pharmaceutical companies are leading the development of smart inhalers with various connectivity and sensor-enabled models:
– Propeller Health Sensor – This small Bluetooth sensor clips onto most common inhalers and tracks use data sent to the Propeller app. Several major manufacturers license the sensor technology.
– Teva’s SmartTouch – This connected dry powder inhaler for COPD includes sensors for inhalation confirmation and reminds patients through color-changing lights and vibration.
– Novartis’ Breezhaler – An electronically monitored version connects to digital platforms for remote monitoring of asthma/COPD inhaler usage.
– Vectura/H&T Presspart Smart Neb – A Bluetooth-enabled nebulizer connects to an app to guide therapy and monitor adherence for asthma/COPD patients on nebulized medication.
– Adherium Smart Turbuhaler – Integrated sensors and Bluetooth in this asthma inhaler to enhance remote monitoring by doctors and encourage better medication use habits through app feedback.
Widespread Adoption of Smart Inhalers
As the technology improves and connects more closely with digital healthcare platforms, smart inhaler usage is predicted to grow substantially in the coming years. Major advantages over traditional inhalers in monitoring medication use, supporting patient care and facilitating remote physician oversight ensure their rise. The connectivity and data they provide has potential to greatly improve outcomes for chronic respiratory disease patients worldwide. With this revolution in digital therapeutics, smart inhalers are demonstrating they can enhance the treatment of asthma, COPD and other lung conditions.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it