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Can Your Smartwatch Help You Manage Asthma Better?
The future of healthcare is precision medicine which combines patient clinical data, analytics and data science. Huge strides have been made in collecting critical information from patients to provide them with personalized and well-suited treatment options for diseases such as cancer.
By Sahana Shankar, Ph.D. Candidate
The latest development is a virtual study by the University of California, Irvine (UCI), in collaboration with Apple Inc and Anthem Inc to understand how wearable tech like Apple Watch could be leveraged to help asthma patients to monitor and improve their clinical conditions.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects nearly 25 million people in America. Self-management is critical, with no cure available since uncontrolled situations can lead to permanent lung damage and premature death. Asthma has different symptoms and triggers. Hence there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach for self-management. Several articles have made a case for a practical and evidence-based approach for supported self-management.
Anthem Inc announced a virtual study on September 16, 2020, which will enroll asthma patients in a two-year randomized control trial to test how patient information such as activity, heart rate, blood oxygen levels can help them make informed decisions to manage asthma. Each participant will receive an Apple Watch and a Beddit Sleep Monitor to track their health metrics. CareEvolution, a healthcare-based technology company, has designed the digital study app to collect the data. Through the app, participants’ data will be collected and they will receive regular notifications and curated medical advice based on daily symptoms and trigger tracking. Since the app contains a wide range of patient data, it can nudge participants to reduce risks and improve their symptoms by effective self-management.
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This innovative and collaborative virtual study’s main goal is to examine how clinical outcomes for asthma can be improved by patients themselves, using digital tools. It will also help in our understanding of how wearable tech devices can help predict and mitigate risks, which could mean that they can be designed to serve as digital biomarkers for asthma control.
Rajeev Ronanki, Chief Digital Officer at Anthem, Inc said, ‘we are making it easier for consumers to proactively manage their health through our digital-first approach to delivering healthcare solutions and services.” Apple’s Head of Health Strategic Initiatives, Myoung Cha hopes “this study can help the medical community produce new insights about asthma control and can identify effective digital tools that can help empower people around the world to better manage their condition.”
Dr. Steve Goldstein, vice chancellor for health affairs at UCI noted the significance of using patient data to make better choices. He said, “Personalized medicine and improving the health of populations are based on similar principles. The human body contains critical information – data – necessary to diagnose and treat our patients. Through innovation and emerging technologies, we are able to harness that data, and by coupling it with an individual’s environment and experiences, chart pathways to lifelong health and well-being.”
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