Specialist nurses are taking part in an innovative new digital health project pilot that aims to reduce their risk of patients experiencing asthma exacerbations.
It will see asthma patients given “remote and virtual” support by a team of specialist asthma nurses and psychologists who specialise in behavioural change.
“This funding is enabling us to work with people with asthma, healthcare professionals and other experts”
The 12-Week Asthma Support Programme is being run by charity Asthma UK and funded through a Department of Health “innovation challenge fund” grant.
The initial pilot will involve 30 people with asthma who have had an attack in the last year, are aged between 18-67, live in England and have a smartphone.
After the initial pilot, a further 320 people will be recruited to join a second phase of the pilot inform recruited from autumn 2017.
Upon signing up for the pilot, patients with asthma will receive personalised digital support that is easily and conveniently available to them wherever they are, via their smartphones.
The impact of the pilot in improving asthma control and reducing the risk of asthma attacks among people with asthma will then be evaluated.
When patients join the pilot, they will be asked to fill out a questionnaire to gather information on their views of their asthma, medication, health beliefs and behaviour.
Following a phone call with an asthma nurse, they will be sent specialised advice, activities to do, and regular prompts to help them manage their asthma better.
The impact and cost-effectiveness of the pilot will subsequently by evaluated, said the charity, which is currently looking for patients to take part.
Asthma UK noted that the NHS spent more than £60m each year on emergency asthma admissions and over £1bn a year on asthma.
Three quarters of such emergency admissions were avoidable and were largely due to inadequate management or control of asthma, the charity highlighted.
Michael Clarke, director of health advice at Asthma UK, said the pilot was part of developing a “tailored support service” that would help change patient attitudes towards their asthma, reduce the risk of life-threatening asthma attacks and empower people to live healthier lives.
Asthma UK’s successful bid for the DH grant follows the recent publication of its report Smart asthma: Real-world implementation of connected devices in the UK to reduce asthma attacks.
The report revealed how technologies already in existence like smart inhalers, electronic alerts and digital action plans could be used to transform the NHS asthma care pathway by reducing routine GP appointments and helping people with asthma to manage their own condition.
Digital pilot project to help reduce asthma attack risk
Source: Asthma UK