Sheffield Children’s Hospital trials app to help patients and their families manage severe asthma

Exterior of Sheffield Childrens Hospital
12 August 2019

A new asthma app is being trialled at Sheffield Children’s Hospital to help children manage their severe asthma.

A partnership between Sheffield Children’s and technology company Aseptika, the innovative trial uses the newly developed Asthma+me app to help patient and parents better manage severe asthma outside of the hospital.

The app allows the patient and/or the family to input information about their asthma and link up their inhalers. The app collects this information and helps educate the child and the family, and can also help automatically warn them when an asthma attack is about to happen. With enough advanced warning, the hope is that families can act sooner and avoid visits to hospital.

Professor Heather Elphick, paediatric respiratory consultant at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, leads this area of research. She has identified the need for technology to support children aged 6 to 12 and has been collaborating with Aseptika for over two years.

Heather said: “The app is an innovative way of extending our support at the hospital through technology to children and their families at home. The app can help families further understand when an asthma attack may happen, monitor their child’s asthma consistently through the App and perhaps prevent trips to hospital in the future.

“It’s a good way to complement the care received from us here at Sheffield Children’s and I’m looking forward to seeing where technology can take us next.”

Kevin Auton, Managing Director of Aseptika, said: “Asthma is still the most common medical condition for children and young people in the UK, and is the number one reason for urgent admissions to hospital in England. There are still a small number of avoidable deaths in children and young people from asthma every year, meaning the UK has the third highest risk of death from childhood asthma in developed countries.

“We created this app with the team at Sheffield Children’s to help the whole family better cope with their child’s asthma. Though symptoms are under control after support from their GP or hospital consultant, families still feel they need support at home. The app we’ve created can hopefully decrease the amount of appointments needed: children can spend more time at school or playing with the knowledge that their asthma is being managed.”

Eight-year-old Callum, a patient at Sheffield Children’s, has severe asthma. Similar to a lot of children with moderate to severe asthma, he visits Sheffield Children’s Hospital every few months for an appointment with a specialist paediatrician. Callum was referred to the hospital because his asthma wasn’t in control and his family needed more assistance to manage it. As well as support at the hospital, Callum and his family have additional help outside of the clinic, through the Asthma+me app.

Callum’s mum Jacqueline said: “The technology has really helped us as a family help Callum manage his asthma. We know when we need to give Callum extra support and we understand how we can help him. It’s brilliant; I’d recommend it to anybody.”

Dr Sean Clarkson, Programme Manager at Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), said: “Asthma+me helps families to manage childhood asthma by increasing knowledge and enabling them to react quickly to anything that could exacerbate a child’s condition. This helps to reduce the number of unplanned hospital visits, including those to A&E.

“We believe Asthma+me has great potential to deliver significant benefits to children, parents/families and the health system and are pleased to be supporting Aseptika to build up their evidence base and adopt Asthma+me across the region.”

The Asthma+me app also includes a complete educational programme, electronic Personalised Asthma Care and Action Plan, which can be printed and given to the child’s school, friends and GP to explain what to do in the event of an asthma attack, with the aim to automatically send the child’s data to their electronic patient record at the hospital each week.

 

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