Busy families could soon turn to their smartphones for help managing asthma symptoms and attacks.
Faculty at Saint Louis University, Harvard and St. Louis College of Pharmacy are researching smartphone and web-based applications, and data infrastructure to create a real-time asthma alert messaging system, according to a SLU news release. The work is made possible by a $93,000 gift from Google and a $25,000 award from SLU's President's Research Fund.
More than 25.7 million Americans currently have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mark Gaynor, associate professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy at SLU, envisions this tool as an effective way to prevent asthma attacks before they happen, preserving health and saving time and money for patients and health care systems.
"In areas such as St. Louis, which is one of the 10 worst cities in the U.S. for asthma, we see a very high admission rate to the emergency room for this chronic condition," Gaynor said. "This is a problem because it is filling up the ER with patients who really don't need to be there. This alert system will allow patients to manage their asthma, giving them the warning they need to avoid conditions that could potentially trigger an asthma attack."
The alert messaging system will give patients a tool to manage their individual asthma conditions by sending alerts when outdoor conditions have the potential to trigger asthma attacks. Members of the project team from the three institutions are collaborating to give asthma patients a way to track environmental conditions using Google Maps software. Researchers hope to have the tool ready in the next two to three years.
"The goal is to create a system that really senses the environment, makes suggestions based on what it senses, and then learns as it goes along," Gaynor said.
Outdoor environmental conditions that contribute to asthma attacks include air pollution, including ozone, and pollen and other allergens.From the calendar