The Smart Inhaler Aiming to Improve Patient Trials

The FDA cleared GSK and Propeller Health in November to market a custom Propeller sensor, with GSK planning to launch a number of clinical trials for the Ellipta smart inhaler in early 2017.

While details of the upcoming trials were not provided, patient well-being will be a focus, as other technologies, including sensors to monitor physical activity and vital signs, and electronic diaries, have been incorporated to gain a holistic picture of how the patient is doing.

A clip-on sensor, developed by Propeller Health, will be used to not only track how often the patients take their medication but also provide insight on what may prevent use of the inhaler.

Usage information is sent via bluetooth every time a patient opens or closes the device, and is recorded in real-time to GSK's clinical-trial database. This ability to send this intelligence to a database reduces the burden of manual processes, cutting down on human error.

This information can then be used to improve patient care, David Van Sickle, CEO of Propeller Health, stated. “[...] to deliver actionable reminders and insights to patients, with a focus on the patient experience, to improve self management, medication adherence, patient-clinician communication, and to improve the quality of ongoing care and treatment.”

The use of real-time data means patients can participate in the trial remotely, without needing regular visits to the clinician. This encourages patient participation, allowing for a wider scope of real-world data from which to draw conclusions, while reducing the burden trails may present to some patients. “If it's a very cold day or there's a lot of pollution, it's difficult for someone with lung disease to come to the clinic. Instead of coming once a month or every two weeks, we can monitor how they are doing remotely.” Said Tal-Singer.

GSK have used sensors to study mobility and patient activity before, with success in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Using this method also gathers more objective data than the traditional methods of patient journals and walking tests in a physician's office.

While manufacturers of respiratory drugs, such as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TPI), have partnered with technology companies in order to improve their outcomes and adherence rates. TPI acquired Gecko Health Innovations in 2015, which developed a platform that relies on the cloud to monitor chronic respiratory diseases remotely and help manage them.

Analysts believe that technology solutions such as sensors could offer savings of approximately $19.3 billion for the 50 million people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the United States alone.

Our Patient Primary service focuses on improving the patient experience during clinical trials and goes some way to improving retention rates. Get in touch to discover more.