Practical Apps 8: Adult Asthma
Dr. Matthew Cruickshank
Dr. Matthew Cruickshank is a practicing family physician in Toronto. He holds an undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering from Queen’s University where he developed skills in the development and implementation of technology products and an understanding of how they can enhance traditional systems. He studied medicine at University of Western Ontario and completed his residency at University of Toronto. During his medical education he developed an interest in practice optimization with novel uses of technology. Matthew is currently practicing family medicine at a community-based family practice in Toronto that has a focus on technology integration in family practice to optimize the patient and physician experience.
What Experts Say
Watch our interview with leading respirologist Dr. Shawn Aaron.
This app was created by pediatrician and University of California, San Francisco medical school faculty member Dr. Sam Pejham to give patients a tool to help them manage their asthma. It also collects real-time data for asthma research. The app offers a daily log of symptoms, triggers, medication use and peak flow readings to help patients and their physicians better assess asthma control. While the company sells a branded peak flow meter ($30.50 on amazon.ca), readings are entered manually into the app making it possible to use the app with any peak flow meter. The app stands out for incorporating a customized asthma action plan that is activated when a user’s peak flow reading is in the yellow zone, and then proceeds to step them through acute treatment. The app also offers data-sharing and medication reminders. This app supports effective journaling and provides a built-in action plan; it’s a great option for many patients with asthma.
Asthma Australia – Asthma App
This app was created by Asthma Australia, an asthma education and advocacy organization. The goal of the app is to provide a mobile education tool for health professionals, people with asthma and their caregivers. The app does not offer a journaling tool. It includes some great features such as videos on how to properly use inhalers and information on acute asthma management. It also includes a medication section outlining common asthma medications but does not adequately explain the different types of medications and their uses. Overall the app is a good mobile educational tool but would need to be used with an asthma journaling tool for comprehensive self-management.
A product of Swiss healthcare applications and data management company haako gmbh, this app is an asthma journal designed to help users track their asthma control and use of rescue medication to help them and their provider optimize their care. Its strength is its simple and intuitive user interface which allows various aspects of asthma control to be entered and visualized in graphic form. The Apple version of the app communicates with the built-in Apple Health app to access users’ footstep counter data to help identify exercise-induced symptoms. The app also saves peak flow readings to the Health app so users can access their readings even if they stop using Asthma Tracker. The app offers medication and peak flow reminders. The app could be improved by incorporating additional features such as controller medication compliance, tracking medication changes, triggers, an action plan and educational tools.
This app was released by the U.S. Allergy & Asthma Network and is powered by Health Storylines. Health Storylines is a customizable mobile and Web-based app used by patients to manage their health; it’s a product of Self Care Catalysts, a Canadian patient intelligence and solutions company. The Allergy & Asthma Network is a non-profit patient education and advocacy organization for people with asthma and allergies. Its website contains educational readings and resources such as an asthma action plan. The app, however, is limited to a basic asthma symptom tracker in a branded version of the Health Storylines app. The app includes a medication compliance tracker for controller medications but does not track use of rescue medication. The app allows users to track customizable symptoms and peak flow readings and displays them in a weekly graph. The app includes a section for the Asthma Control Test but simply links to an image of the test and does not allow users or save their information for tracking. This app may be helpful for users looking for a symptom journaling tool but is in no way a comprehensive asthma self-monitoring and management tool.
- Lougheed MD, Lemiere C, Ducharme FM, Licskai C, Dell SD, Rowe BH, et al. Canadian Thoracic Society 2012 guideline update: diagnosis and management of asthma in preschoolers, children and adults. Canadian respiratory journal : journal of the Canadian Thoracic Society. 2012;19(2):127-64.
- Pinnock H. Supported self-management for asthma. Breathe. 2015;11(2):98-109.