Practical Apps 10: Pediatric Asthma

author

Dr. Niraj Mistry
Toronto, Ontario

Bio
Niraj is a practicing pediatrician in Toronto. He completed an MD at the University of Toronto and Pediatrics residency at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). During his fellowship in Academic General Pediatrics he completed a Masters in eHealth (Health Informatics) at McMaster University. Niraj is currently a staff pediatrician at SickKids, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Scarborough Centenary. Niraj is currently focused on the user-centred design, development and implementation of novel technologies to improve the application of the best available evidence at the point of care, to enhance care delivery and optimize the patient and family experience.

Apps Reviewed:

What Experts Say

Watch our interview with pediatric respirologist Dr. Tom Kovesi about pediatric asthma.

Patient Experiences

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Wizdy Pets

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Wizdy Games is a health-oriented gaming start-up promoting patient self-management through engaging mobile games. Wizdy Pets features a fire-breathing dragon who educates children about asthma through games. In one mini-game, children lead the dragon through the steps of taking an inhaler. In another, Trigger Ninja, children need to slash asthma triggers but not inhalers. Completing missions and mini-games earns badges, coins to buy items and fire-breathing power to fight the smog monster. By playing this game, children will learn to identify asthma triggers, how to take inhalers, the difference between controller and reliever medicines and the importance of taking regular controller medicine. My favourite feature is the dragon who gets hungry and needs healthy food to increase its lifeline. The purchase of unhealthy food items actually decreases the lifeline.

Overall, this is an excellent game for children with asthma. Its interface is simple and features colourful cartoon animations.

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7 keys to manage Childhood Asthma

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This app was created by Dr. Jagdish Chinnappa, Consultant Paediatrician at Child Central Clinic & Manipal Hospital in Bangalore, India, aka Silicon Valley of the East. The main goal of this app is to help parents manage their child’s asthma by providing education about important aspects of asthma care including allergen avoidance, lifestyle modification, symptom relief, controller medications, action plan and response monitoring. There are some excellent videos of cartoon characters demonstrating the proper medication administration technique for different devices.

Overall the app is an excellent mobile educational tool with some limited tracking features.

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The Amazings

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This app was published by Carolinas HealthCare System, a public, not-for-profit healthcare organization in the U.S. southeast, and Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Amazings features fast-paced, runner-style gameplay to help kids recognize and avoid asthma triggers like pollen, cigarette smoke and pollution, and stay vigilant about their health. The intended audience is children with asthma aged seven to 12 years old. Compared to Wizdy Pets, this app targets a slightly older audience. As a much-older than 12-year-old, I found gameplay quite simple and addictive.

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AAP Asthma Tracker for Adolescents

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This app is part of a series of condition specific apps developed by @Point of Care but re-branded by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The @Point of Care version is called Asthma Manager. The overall goal of the @Point of Care platform is to integrate patient-reported health data with the latest evidence to foster greater patient adherence and practitioner learning, practice change and provide patient-specific clinical decision support. Both versions of the app contain a journal tool to track symptoms and spirometry. Each journal entry is quite long and buggy, requiring multiple taps and extensive data entry. Both versions contain a patient education section, with the Asthma Manager version linking directly to the American Lung Association website through an internal browser that under performs. The strength of the AAP version is that the patient education section is pre-populated with pediatric relevant educational content, instructions and videos.In addition, the AAP version has a My Action Plan section where users can create a personalized asthma action plan with their provider’s help with action steps based on their daily peak flow readings. Despite these two additional features, the app is clunky to use with lots of bugs and is clearly an attempt to customize a generic patient health-tracking app for asthma. While re-branded by a reputable source, this app is mostly useful for the educational content, which could also be accessed directly on the internet.

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References:

  1. MD Lougheed, C Lemière, SD Dell, et al. Canadian Thoracic Society Asthma Management Continuum — 2010 Consensus
    Summary for children six years of age and over, and adults. Can
    Respir J 2010;17(1):15-24.
  2. Ducharme FM, Dell SD, Radhakrishnan D, et al. Diagnosis and management of asthma in preschoolers: A Canadian Thoracic Society and Canadian Paediatric Society position paper. Canadian Respiratory Journal: Journal of the Canadian Thoracic Society. 2015;22(3):135-143.Huckvale K, Car M, Morrison C, Car J. Apps for asthma self-management: a systematic assessment of content and tools. BMC Med. 2012;10:144.

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