Asthma App Improves Control, Reduces ER Visits

Children with asthma who used the eAsthma Tracker app weekly missed 60% fewer days of school and their parents missed 70% fewer days of work.

Bryan Stone, MD, MS

An asthma tracking app for children with asthma and their parents significantly improved quality of life and asthma control over the course of one year of use, while reducing missed school and work days.

“More than 50% of children with asthma have poorly controlled asthma. To improve asthma self-management, we developed the electronic asthma tracker,” said Bryan Stone, MD, MS, a hospitalist at the University of Utah Health and the senior study author in a video abstract.

Stone said that while asthma care is typically reactive, the signs of worsening asthma appear days to weeks before an attack, providing opportunity for an app like this to intervene and connect parents with caregivers before a flare-up occurs.

“It’s exciting to see that using an effective app can not only help improve the lives of children with asthma and their parents, but also allow their providers to give optimal care,” said Flory Nkoy, MD, MS, MPH, a professor of pediatrics at University of Utah Health and the lead study author in a statement.

Nkoy and his team created the eAsthma Tracker app and carried out the research along with collaborators across Utah. The prospective cohort study included 327 children and their parents at 11 clinics throughout the state. Participants were matched with controls and asked to use the app weekly for 1 year, from January 2014 to December 2015.

At 12 months, adherence to weekly app use was 65%. Compared to baseline, participants had significantly increased quality of life and asthma control. Additionally, children tracked through the app missed 60% fewer days of school and their parents missed 70% fewer days of work.

Investigators compared app users’ admissions to the emergency department as and hospital during the year of app use to the year before the app intervention as well as to matched controls. Compared to the year before app use, patients using the eAsthma Tracker app had reduced emergency department and hospital admissions (rate ratio [RR], 0.68; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.49—0.95). Compared to matched controls, app users had even lower rates of ED and hospital admissions (RR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.22–0.75).

Use of oral corticosteroids was also reduced through app use compared to the year prior (RR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.61—0.91) and compared to controls (RR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.46–0.93).

Nkoy and Stone are now working on market validation and a strategy to commercialize the app so it can be expanded to other institutions.

“We are optimistic that spread of eAsthma Tracker can significantly improve asthma care and reduce asthma related healthcare costs,” added Nkoy.

The study, “Ambulatory Management of Childhood Asthma Using a Novel Self-management Application,” was published in Pediatrics.