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Smart technology guides asthma patients towards better inhalation technique

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A new study has show that the Clip-Tone smart inhaler technology is helpful for asthma patients, and guides them to improve their inhaler technique. This is the first time that the technology has been shown to have a real-world impact on inhaler technique.

The study assessed the Clip-Tone device which attaches to the inhaler and provides an audible signal when the inhaler is being used, alongside the Clip-Tone Buddy smartphone app, which provides real-time visual feedback on the user’s inhaler duration and technique.

All patients who used the Clip-Tone device found it useful, would choose to continue using it, and would recommend it to a friend. The Clip-Tone Buddy app was found to routinely detect user inhalation efforts, guiding them towards improved technique.

All participants who used the Clip-Tone Buddy app found the visual feedback helpful, and would continue using it.

The study also found that the algorithms used by the Clip-Tone Buddy app have an extremely high sensitivity, more than 92%. The real-world patient usage data collected in this study will be used further refine the algorithms, and increase the accuracy of the technology.

Mark Sanders, chief technology officer at Clement Clarke International, one of the authors of the study, stated, “Getting patients to consistently adopt good inhaler technique has
been an enduring challenge for all inhaler development.

“Our study suggests that providing real-time cues and feedback can help encourage consistent behaviour through the use of simple, low-cost technology. Everyday use of the Clip-Tone device and smartphone app in association with daily medications could promote improved inhalation technique.”

Good inhaler technique has been identified by clinicians and patient groups alike as a key way of improving outcomes for asthma and other respiratory diseases. A recent report into asthma deaths in the UK found that 22% of people were not using their inhaler correctly.

Inhaler technique reviews have also been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with many healthcare professionals unable to accurately assess technique over the phone or by video chat.

Technology like the Clip-Tone device and smartphone app could help healthcare professionals to monitor and identify any issues with their patients’ inhaler technique, even via remote consultations.

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