The attitude of UK asthma patients towards ‘smart’ and connected inhaler features

Matthew Jones – Senior Sector Manager (Medical and Scientific), Grace Kane – Senior Design Researcher, Danielle Coffey – Designer, Daniel Jenkins – HF and Usability Lead

In this paper, originally given at the Drug Delivery to the Lungs conference in December 2020, we present data from a study exploring the attitude of UK asthma patients towards ‘smart’ and connected inhaler features.

‘Smart’ and connected inhaler features have the potential to improve patients’ asthma control and their adherence to therapies. It is possible to incorporate a wide variety of different automated functions within an inhaler, but just because it can be done, it doesn’t mean that it should. When specifying a new inhaler, it can be challenging for developers to find evidence on the best features to include for a particular patient population.

Much of the data that exists on patient attitudes towards ‘smart’/connected inhalers (and other ‘smart’/connected drug delivery devices) are either focused on a particular commercially available device or is not current.

This investigation provides current data on the potential electronic features that patients value most. A number of possible features were identified for evaluation with the grounding of DCA’s extensive experience in developing connected and ‘smart’ drug delivery devices and through a systematic examination of each step in the asthma treatment journey. The features were grouped into the following categories: usage tracking, prescription management, lung health monitoring, HCP interaction, technique monitoring and device location.

A sophisticated online, closed-response survey captured the priorities and preferences of 166 UK asthma patients aged 18 to 75+ towards these ‘smart’/connected features and the potential trade-offs that they could introduce. Data was collected for patients of different ages, using different medications and inhaler types, and with varying levels of asthma control. This allowed us to uncover a number of interesting findings regarding the attitudes of different patient groups.