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SmartTrack device improves asthma inhaler adherence

Tablet computer (Arman Zhenikeyev/Dreamstime.com)

SmartTrack uploads data on inhaler use to a website

A device that monitors an asthma patient’s inhaler use and reminds users about missed doses improves adherence to treatment, a study has shown. The results of a randomised controlled trial were reported at the American Thoracic Society annual meeting in San Diego on Wednesday.

The trial included 143 patients with suboptimal asthma control. The patients were instructed to use the SmartTrack device, to talk about adherence with their GP, to use both interventions — or to continue with their usual regime.

SmartTrack records the date and time of each puff and uploads the data to a website; it sends twice-daily reminders about missed doses and provides patients with feedback.

After six months, medication adherence was significantly higher in patients using SmartTrack than in non-users (73% versus 46%).

However, asthma control improved in all groups, with no difference according to treatment allocation.  “We were initially surprised by this, but upon further investigation we saw that, in line with prescribing patterns in Australia, patients were prescribed high controller doses at baseline,” says lead author Juliet Foster, from the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, in Sydney, Australia.

“The modest adherence in the non-reminder groups may have been enough to cause change in asthma control from baseline, with higher adherence rates in reminder groups unable to produce further improvement,” she explains. Improvement in asthma control from baseline in all groups could also potentially have been due to the active usual care interventions, she adds.

“Our study demonstrates that provision of reminders and feedback could be extremely effective for changing controller medication-taking behaviour in significant and positive ways.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11138540

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