During this time of year, incidences of severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) escalate. Today there are 60 million people with moderate to severe COPD and an additional 235 million who live with asthma worldwide. The total direct costs associated with COPD were approximately $40 billion in 2015 and are estimated to reach $49 billion by 2020. The economic burden of COPD and asthma in the European Union was estimated to be more than 80 billion euros in 2013.
Adherence is the biggest challenge with any chronic disease, especially COPD. According to World Health Organization (WHO), the rate of non-adherence varies from 30% to 70% for asthmatic patients. Hence, there is a need to prioritize the role of patient adherence in improving patient outcomes and reducing the associated costs.
The transformation of the healthcare industry toward a patient-centric model, coupled with the rise of digital health, is set to transform respiratory care management. Many pharmaceutical companies are revitalizing their capabilities and operative models through digital health technologies and are transforming themselves toward prevention, precision, personalization, consumer engagement and improved patient outcomes to remain competitive.
The Big Pull: Next-Generation Inhalers
Next-generation inhalers, often known as smart inhalers, are rapidly emerging as the key focus area for pharmaceutical companies. These devices enable patients and healthcare entities to access data in real time and utilize the data to improve the treatment outcomes using digital technology. Leading pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca, Novartis, Boehringer Ingelheim and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) already recognize the role of digital health in connecting to the patients and improving medication adherence.
In July 2015, AstraZeneca partnered with a New Zealand-based digital health technology provider, Adherium, to incorporate digital health technology into its products. Adherium’s Smartinhaler products are cleared for marketing by the U.S. FDA and European CE marking, as well as TGA and MedSafe in Australia and New Zealand. Furthermore, the company is in the process of CFDA registration in China.
Another U.S. based, FDA-approved digital health technology provider, Propeller health, entered into a partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim and GSK for their inhaler device to enhance product value by improving patient adherence and gathering insight on patients, and thereby personalizing treatment for its consumers. Propeller health received FDA approval for its system to be used in association with Boehringer Ingelheim’s Respimat device and GSK’s Diskus device.
Additionally, Novartis entered into a partnership with QualComm to incorporate digital technologies in its COPD device, Breezhaler, in January 2016.
What Does this Mean for Patients and Providers?
The new products enable patients to adhere to their medication by continuous reminder and dosage information. Patients receive alerts through their mobile or electronic devices as a part of the adherence program. The information empowers healthcare providers and companies to monitor patients as well as make informed decisions on choice of treatment and medication changes. Evaluating the patient information allows companies and providers to quantify the factors on medication adherence and better understand the patient to improve the quality of healthcare.
Exhibit 1: Transformation of Respiratory Care Model
The drive toward integration or a connected healthcare environment will rapidly change the clinical workflow of physicians and providers (see exhibit 1). As consumer engagement and data increases, physicians will need to enhance their skills and tools to interpret the results as well as broaden their consultations with patients to support them more often in their choice of treatment. Patients will become more empowered to make decisions for themselves based on the data generated from digital inhalers.
Eventually, the goal with digitization is to increase adherence, reduce costs and improve quality of life. Digital health is not only transforming patient care, but also allows companies to innovate and create opportunities.
Exhibit 2: Major Growth Opportunities
The impact of digitization of healthcare is clearly visible in the respiratory care management segment as pharmaceutical companies are developing a collaborative culture in embracing digital technology. Digitization allows pharmaceutical companies to gather patient data, connect with patients and providers to make informed decisions, and continue to innovate ideas needed to stay ahead of the competition. For companies, the next five to 10 years will be essential as they manage the data from patients and incorporate this into the physician’s workflow.
This article was written with contribution from Brahadeesh Chandrasekaran, Industry Analyst with Frost & Sullivan’s Transformation Health Program.
This article was written by Reenita Das from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.