Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has offered up a new, free asthma management app, called MyAsthma, for iPhone and Android users in the UK. The app's core offering is an Asthma Control Test (ACT), which is a simple 30-second test that provides users with an index score for how well they are managing their asthma overall. UK-based Replay Digital developed the app for GSK. Dr. Mike Thomas, Senior Research Fellow with the University of Aberdeen and Chief Medical Advisor, Asthma UK, helped develop the app along with Professor Rob Horne, a behavioural psychologist at the University of London.
GSK reports that nearly 50 percent of people in the UK with asthma do not have their condition under control. Some 5.4 million people in the UK are affected by asthma, according to GSK. That includes 4.3 million adults and 1.1 million children.
The MyAsthma app keeps users posted on local information about asthma triggers, including pollen count, pollution, and weather. It also helps users track symptoms and their ACT scores over time to see trends that they can share with care providers. GSK has also developed an algorithm based on this data that generates a selection of messages to the user based on their ACT scores and other data.
In a recent interview Dr. Thomas explained to the Wall Street Journal that the app could help people with asthma control their condition without having to use their reliever inhalers.
“They accept they have to use reliever inhalers on a frequent basis just to get thorough the day," Dr Thomas said. "But for people who understand asthma, that should rarely be necessary. If you are taking the right meds and have the right lifestyle measures, most people can achieve good control.”
"MyAsthma can also be used by carers of people with asthma, especially parents and is a great way to teach older children the importance of taking control of their asthma. This creates a habit that they can carry into adulthood, a significant and positive step for the future of asthma care in the UK," Dr. Thomas stated in a GSK press release. "Empowering patients to take more control of long-term conditions not only leads to improved health outcomes but also cost savings."
Replay Digital told the WSJ that there were no immediate plans to develop BlackBerry or Windows Phone 7 versions of the app. Versions of the app for other countries in Europe, however, are expected to launch over the next year.
Other more robust asthma management apps are under development or already available for download. A similar app to MyAsthma, called AsthmaMD, received a big mention in the FCC's National Broadband Policy report in 2010. One of the first asthma management apps for the iPhone was Ringful's Asthma Journal, which was also the first iPhone app to connect to Google's now defunct Google Health PHR. AccuWeather's WeatherMD app, which launched in mid-2010, also features some alerts for those with asthma. However, more than any other asthma-related app, Asthmapolis, which works with a companion connected inhaler device, has received the most praise. It is still under development, and while it was expected to launch last year, it should be available soon.
(Most of these apps also fall into geomedicine, which we reported on back in 2009 as part of our TEDMED coverage.)
Read more details in GSK's MyAsthma press release after the jump:
PRESS RELEASE: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced the launch of MyAsthma, the UK's first, free personalised health application (app) designed to help people over the age of 12 take greater control of their asthma. The app features the Asthma Control Test™ (ACT), a simple 30-second test developed by leading asthma experts, which gives asthma patients a useful measure of their asthma control in an easy-to-understand score. Although many patients are receiving treatment for their asthma, a recent survey in the UK shows that almost 50% do not have their asthma under control.(1) MyAsthma applies new technology to traditional asthma management to provide a daily personalised plan helping patients to manage their asthma more effectively.
"MyAsthma is exciting for people with asthma as it uses new technology to help them better understand and control this chronic disease. MyAsthma can also be used by carers of people with asthma, especially parents and is a great way to teach older children the importance of taking control of their asthma. This creates a habit that they can carry into adulthood, a significant and positive step for the future of asthma care in the UK" said Dr Mike Thomas, Asthma UK Senior Research Fellow with the University of Aberdeen and Chief Medical Adviser, Asthma UK. "Empowering patients to take more control of long-term conditions not only leads to improved health outcomes but also cost savings."
Asthma is a chronic condition of the airways with symptoms including breathing difficulties and sudden episodes of breathlessness.(2) Asthma affects approximately 5.4 million people in the UK(3) with 4.3m adults and 1.1m children, currently receiving treatment for mild, moderate or severe asthma.(3) When not well controlled, asthma symptoms can result in hospitalisation, even fatality. Asthma places a significant economic burden on both individuals and society. The NHS spends around £1 billion a year treating and caring for people with asthma and between 2008 and 2009, up to 1.1 million working days were lost due to breathing or lung problems.(3)
Designed with the support of a panel of asthma experts and Professor Rob Horne, a behavioural psychologist at the University of London, MyAsthma displays localised information on asthma triggers such as pollen count, pollution and weather. It is enabled to help patients track their symptoms and ACT score evolution over time and contains a library with useful information about asthma. An algorithm generates tailored messages, based on a person's ACT score and individual profiles, to help people address the personal barriers they face and to help them improve their management of the condition. MyAsthma is convenient and easy to use allowing patients to track their asthma control at the quick touch of a smartphone screen, which can help to create a more informed dialogue during consultations with their healthcare professional.