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Welcome to 'Asthmapolis': A World Where Your Inhaler Has a GPS Tracker


"identify possible causes of asthma attacks in the region..."

Tech gadgets are helping doctors and patients come closer together without necessarily needing to see each other in person, at least not as often. One of these tools is a device that attaches to asthma patients' inhalers, tracking when how often and where the device is used.

Asthmapolis is a relatively new company that uses inhaler sensors combined with mobile apps and analytics to help physicians monitor patients and how they're managing their condition. According to the company's website, patients are encouraged to keep track of things that trigger attacks and how often they use medication in a diary, but "remembering to update your diary is tough and it often becomes an inaccurate and incomplete record of your asthma over time."

(Image: Asthmapolis screenshot)

This is where the Asthmapolis sensor comes in. It records the time and place where an inhaler is used by connecting to a smartphone through Bluetooth technology. This information can be monitored by patients but also brought to physicians during appointments.

Watch how it works:

On a broader scale, the data collected by Asthmapolis can also show trends in areas where inhalers seem to be used frequently by many patients.

“In addition to driving better patient-physician communication about asthma management, the tool also gives physicians the ability to quickly identify how patients in their population are doing and take steps to help patients get their disease under control,” David Van Sickle, co-founder and CEO of Asthmapolis, said in a recent press release announcing the company's green light from the FDA to market their product to healthcare providers. “Our mission is to make it easier for patients and their physicians to do a better job of managing asthma with less effort than traditionally required.”

In fact, Asthmapolis is currently conducting a study in Louisville that it hopes will help the city "identify possible causes of asthma attacks in the region and to help patients better manage their illness."

Check out this video about the project:

Asthmapolis is also working with the University of Hawaii and the CDC about the effects of volcanic fog on asthma, and the VA of Puget Sound in patients with COPD to monitor the condition and what can make it worse.

Something you might not think about with such a device on an inhaler is that as a wireless transmitter it would need to go into airplane mode, like other electronic devices during air travel.

This image shows the pieces composing the device that fits on most types of inhalers. (Image: Vimeo screenshot)

As for privacy, which some might be concerned about given the inhaler knows how often and where exactly patients take a puff, the company states in its privacy policy that it provides non-personally identifiable information to public health agencies for purposes like scientific research. It also allows device users to opt out of this third-party sharing if they wish.

(H/T: Popular Science)

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