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Mobile self-monitoring in asthma not cost-effective, says study

Researchers conclude mobile phone based monitoring model did not offer any advantages over and above paper based care

A study of mobile self-monitoring in asthma patients has concluded the technology showed no benefits over paper-based monitoring and was not cost effective.

The randomised clinical trial was funded by patient group Asthma UK and involved 288 adolescents and adults with poorly controlled asthma from 32 GP practices across the UK.

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen were looking to see if mobile monitoring offered benefits not just over 'usual care', where existing studies to date have shown some benefits, but over clinical guideline standards, In this case the stepwise approach of the BTS-SIGN asthma guideline.

Writing in the British Medical Journal they said: “While mobile phone technology will appeal to some people, it is not the crucial ingredient and carries cost implications.

“Its place in clinical care might depend on whether it is a cost effective option for enhancing 'usual care' to the standards recommended by guidelines.”

The trial, which ran from November 2007 to January 2009, involved patients aged 12 and over who had, or were willing to borrow, a compatible mobile phone handset and a contract with a compatible network.

Patients downloaded the t+ Asthma application, which runs on web-enabled mobiles, to record their symptoms, drug use and peak flow readings twice a day.

The app automatically transmitted inputted data to a secure website each time it was used. Patients and their clinicians could then access this data as well as general asthma information.

Patients in the trial's control group recorded the same data at the same frequency, but used a paper diary.

They found that the number of patients suffering acute exacerbations, steroid courses and unscheduled consultations were similar in both the mobile and the paper groups.

These patients' healthcare costs were also similar, but overall the mobile phone service was more expensive because due to the costs of telemonitoring, which came in at about £69 (€83) per patient.

However, a recent qualitative study by the same research team suggested asthma patients perceive a role for mobile technology in aiding their transition to effective self-management.

The trial's research team also noted that “technological advances, such as smart phone applications, will increase functionality and widespread adoption might drive down costs”.

They did not comment on whether better technology would also bring about better clinical results.

But pharma companies hope it will do so, and some have already started using smartphone technology in this area, including GlaxoSmithKline, which launched the UK's first personalised health app for asthma in January.

MyAsthma aims to help patients take greater control of their condition, with features that include a daily personalised plan and the 30-second Asthma Control Test, and more than 1,000 users registered for the programme within its first two weeks.

28th March 2012

From: Marketing

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