Two respiratory consultants from Royal Brompton Hospital are leading a new project to help sufferers self-manage their asthma. Funded by the EU Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020, the myAirCoach project aims to develop an asthma monitoring system using personalised mhealth (health and medicine supported by mobile devices).
Dr Omar Usmani and Professor Kian Fan Chung are the lead investigators for the project, which will be run in the NIHR Royal Brompton Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit and the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London.
Asthma, a chronic lifelong inflammatory disease of the airways, affects around 30 million people in Europe. Despite the wide availability of asthma therapies, approximately one in two people with asthma does not have their asthma well managed and still experiences symptoms that impact significantly on their quality of life.
In line with this year’s World Asthma Day theme “You can control your asthma”, myAirCoach, is recruiting patients to develop a monitoring device that is integrated with mobile technology to help people with asthma to take the right steps to stay on top of their condition and reduce their risk of an asthma attack. Physicians will benefit by being able to oversee their patients’ condition, adjust their medication or therapy as needed, all while maintaining their privacy. It is hoped that, over time, the system will help healthcare professionals understand the mechanisms underpinning the progression of the disease.
There are many external factors that can impact an individual’s ability to manage their asthma and as each person’s asthma affects them differently, individualised treatments are necessary. MyAirCoach will use a network of sensors to collect data about a person’s symptoms and environment. The data will be transferred to a mobile device for analysis and will feed into a personalised digital model of each individual’s asthma, supporting patients to better manage their condition and optimise their treatment.
The project has set up an advisory patient forum that will guide researchers to ensure the resulting self-management system is relevant to patient needs. Patient representatives from European Federation of Allergies (EFA) and Asthma UK will inform the design of myAirCoach through focus groups and surveys to make sure it is useful to patients in the real world.
“This is a really innovative use of mobile technology and has the potential to make a big difference to people with asthma to produce a meaningful tool for patients”, declared Breda Flood, president of the EFA and Airways Diseases Patients’ Association.
The myAirCoach project represents a great opportunity to demonstrate the wider benefits of involving patients in the development of new technologies to improve healthcare.
The project started on 1 January 2015 and will run for three years.
For more information, please contact Dr Usmani or Professor Chung