A new inhaler monitoring technology, currently in development through a collaboration between digital health start-up Clin-e-cal and British manufacturer Clement Clarke International, aims to transform ordinary inhalers into smart inhalers without the need for costly electronics or bulky add-ons.
Smart inhalers target the large number of patients who do not use their inhaler as prescribed and demonstrate poor inhaler technique. However, progress to date has been slow, and so far, pharma companies have not been able to take advantage of new technologies like Clip-Tone.
The Clip-Tone device is an attachment which clips to the top of an inhaler and generates a whistling sound when the inhaler is used. The attachment works with a companion app which uses SoundResponse technology to analyse the sound signal, and provides real-time visual feedback to patients on their inhalation technique, as well as tracking their adherence and sending medication reminders.
This solution could help patients manage long-term respiratory conditions, particularly as many of them may be confined to their homes with reduced contact with healthcare professionals until the COVID-19 outbreak has been contained. Patients with respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD have already been advised to be particularly vigilant about taking their medication as prescribed. The companies are currently in discussions with a number of pharmaceutical companies about incorporating the Clip-Tone attachment into their range of inhaler products.
Although there are millions of patients around the world who use inhalers to manage their respiratory conditions, many do not use the optimal inhalation technique, which means that not all the medication is delivered directly into the lungs where it is needed. Correct inhaler technique has been shown to reduce the risk of an asthma attack, but it can also reduce patients’ risk of developing side effects.
The Clip-Tone attachment can be used with a range of ordinary preventer and combination inhalers, and the companion app only requires access to the smartphone’s microphone. The app also creates an objective inhaler usage record for patients, which can also be shared in discussions with healthcare professionals. Patients receive real-time feedback on their inhalation and co-ordination and an immediate analysis of their overall technique. Users are encouraged to try and keep a slow, gentle inhalation for a minimum of three seconds.
The Clip-Tone app is powered by acoustic analysis SoundResponse technology developed by University of Manchester spin-out Clin-e-cal.