300 million people are affected by asthma globally, and 100 million are suffering from the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The treatment of these two diseases costs over €80 billion in the US and Europe each. The direct costs make up almost $50.1 billion, and hospital stays are the most significant part of that cost. For adults, asthma is one of the top reason for underperformance at work. Sufferers miss about 14 million workdays each year, and this equals about $2 billion of indirect asthma costs.
Patients first realize that they have a chronic pulmonary disease like asthma or COPD if symptoms like recurrent wheezing, coughing or difficulty in breathing appear. A pulmonologist would then use a spirometer to formally diagnose the condition. The pulmonologist then managed by a combination of lifestyle choices and medication. Lifestyle choices include avoiding triggers such as cigarette smoke, pets, or aspirin. Medication is generally inhaled using an inhaler and can be quick-relief medications (such as beta2-adrenoceptor agonists or salbutamol) or long-term control medication (such as corticosteroids or Long-acting beta-adrenoceptor agonists).
Given that controlling lifestyle choices are a big part of preventing and managing chronic pulmonary diseases, smart medical devices such as smart inhalers and smart spirometers could have a significant impact on health outcomes. Here are 5 different ways in which AI is redefining respiratory care.
1. AI aided inhaler based medication adherence solutions
Since the delivery of respiratory medication is primarily achieved through inhalers which involves several steps, 50% of all patients fail to take their daily medication as prescribed. Monitoring the correctness of the drug delivery technique, as well as tracking whether the patient is adhering to the prescribed regimen is vital to improving the effectiveness of respiratory care pathways. Amiko‘s Respiro® Sense technology is a CE Marked smart inhaler that can track both patient adherence and delivery technique and report it back to the physician. The Respiro® Sense technology is available to consumers as either standalone smart inhalers or can be integrated as an add-on device to their current inhalers. Respiro® Sensors have built-in artificial intelligence that can offer individualized guidance to patients such as smart dose reminders and how to improve the quality of the inhalation technique. Adherium‘s Hailie™ solution is an FDA 510(k) approved and CE Marked devices and software, that provides similar medication reminders and to monitor inhaler usage. Adherium claims that the Hailie™ platform increases adherence to preventative medication by 180% in children and 59% in adults. Propeller Health‘s smart inhaler platform has eight FDA 510(k) approvals and provides similar medication reminders. Propeller Health has done studies showing 58% improvement in medication adherence. Other smart inhaler platforms such as Inspiro Medical was bought by Opko in 2014, and Gecko Health Innovations was acquired by Teva Pharmaceuticals in 2015.
2. AI aided early warning system
The Propeller spirometer and app uses advanced analytics to help patients identify triggers, symptoms, trends and other personalized insights. Also, Propeller’s Air is an open API that uses machine learning from Propeller devices and environmental sources and can predict how asthma may be affected by local environmental conditions.
3. AI aided diagnostics
Smart spirometers such as NUVOair’s Air Next can provide automatic pre and post-bronchodilator analysis and automated data interpretation. Smart spirometers such as Cohero Health‘s FDA approved mSpirometer® sensor and BreatheSmart® app provides clinical metrics and their interpretations.
4. AI aided lung imaging
Companies such as Fluidda are using artificial intelligence to combine High-resolution CT Scan images with advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) tools to help pulmonologists visualize both structural and functional parameters of the lungs. They provide pulmonologists with detailed color-coded images, allowing pulmonologists to provide patient-specific parameters such as airway resistance and aerosol deposition characteristics.