Most patients living with asthma are aware of their triggers and are motivated to steer clear. They still have to be out in the world, and some things may be out of their control, such as weather changes, exposure to allergens, cigarette smoke as well as multiple vectors impacting them at once. Children may need additional assistance from their guardians. Even with regular check-ups, some patients may still have breakthrough attacks. To cut down on those incidences, using Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) to manage their cases provides a higher standard of care.
Asthma manifests differently depending on the individual. It is characterized by one or more of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, wheezing, sleep affected by coughing/wheezing/breathing issues, breathing difficulties with exercise, coughing or wheezing attacks that come with colds and flu.
How Remote Patient Monitoring is used in the care of Patients with Asthma
RPM provides consistent monitoring to patients living with asthma, in between regular appointments. Patients can easily be trained on the proper use of a pulse oximeter to track their oxygen saturation (SP02) levels as shown as percentages of oxygenated hemoglobin compared to non-oxygenated cells in the blood. The data can easily be shared with the patient’s health care team.
Other biometrics can be tracked as well as digital spirometry tests, peak flow meters, and smart nebulizer data.
Digital spirometry tests are an important measure of the volume of air a patient inhales, exhales, as well as to track how quick the exhale is.
Peak flow meters measure the air flowing out of the lungs. A low Peak Expiratory Flow Rate (PEFR) is an indicator of asthma
Smart nebulizers can give better target smaller airways of an individual by adjusting to their body’s unique needs
Using data for prevention can keep patients out of doctors’ offices, where there may be a greater risk of exposure to Covid-19 as well as colds and flu —especially when having to perform the deep breathing that is necessary for accurate readings of lung function and volume.
Automated Emergency Alerts
Systems are set up to monitor trends and bring attention to the most relevant data. When a patient’s readings leave the “safe range” alerts will be immediately sent out for immediate patient care. Immediate action will be taken if a patient is trending downwards or is in immediate danger.
For unstable or patients with serious conditions, there is an option to sign up for a comprehensive program. It will give prioritization to the highest-risk patients, for the quickest responses from clinicians
Using RPM for Tracking Symptoms
Another way to track asthma symptoms is to keep a daily diary, which can be done on one or more available apps. Having all of the data in one place easily helps patients and practitioners notice trends due to their use of easy-to-visualize graphs and charts. The following symptoms are recommended for tracking.
Any incidences of shortness of breath (SOB) or wheezing
Chest tightness, pain, or discomfort
Sleep interruptions, especially when SOB, wheezing, or coughing is involved
Exercise-induced asthma symptoms
Allergy symptoms, including sneezing, runny nose, and sinus headaches
Coughing and any changes in the color of phlegm
Exposure to triggers
Disruptions to day-to-day activities due to asthma and related symptoms
Any emergencies that require a hospital visit
Use of quick-relief inhaler (see below)
RPM for Tracking Medication Use
Patients living with asthma may take different medicines, including medications for allergies as well as long-term control inhalers and quick-relief inhalers. Long-term control medications are used to prevent asthma symptoms, usually used daily, while the latter is used for acute flare-ups. Overuse of quick-relief inhalers can be an indication that the symptoms are not being managed well, and it’s time for the health care team to reevaluate the patient’s case to optimize their care. RPM can be used to flag such markers.
Alerts can be set up for patients to remember to take their medications. Many people have a lot of moving parts in their daily lives, and it can be easy to miss a dose, which can be detrimental to their symptom management. Having a reminder system is one way to keep patients on a regular care schedule.
Patients living with asthma often work with pulmonologists, allergists, and primary care physicians. Having all of the data in one place makes cross-team symptom management easier for all involved, and reduces the communication gaps and lag times.
Even with the best practices, people living with asthma can still have breakthrough attacks, which can be anxiety-producing and life-threatening for others.
Using an RPM program comes as a complete package, making the management and care of asthma easier on the patients, the clinicians, and their families. With comprehensive daily monitoring, emergencies will be less common and easier to react to if the situations may arise.