The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and LifeMap Solutions, a company developing innovative digital health solutions, have announced international expansion of the free Asthma Health app to the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Asthma Health was originally released in March 2015 alongside the launch of Apple’s ResearchKit platform in the US. The app enables individuals with asthma to participate in a large-scale medical research study by simply using an iPhone.

The Asthma Health app is designed to facilitate asthma patient education and self-monitoring, promote positive behavioural changes, and reinforce adherence to treatment plans according to current asthma guidelines. The study tracks symptom patterns in an individual and potential triggers for these exacerbations so that researchers can learn new ways to personalize asthma treatment.

“We are excited to expand our successful Asthma Health research app to the United Kingdom and Ireland using Apple’s ResearchKit framework,” said the Jean C. and James W. Crystal Professor of Genomics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Founding Director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology, Eric Schadt, PhD.

“Over the past year in the US, we recruited and enrolled over 8,600 research participants in our study in one of the largest real-world epidemiological studies of asthma. Now we’re going global by adding the UK and Ireland to our clinical research platform, to collect an unprecedented breadth and depth of `real world’ health data and create a more holistic view of individuals and the disease on a population level,” continued Schadt.

ResearchKit is a software framework designed by Apple that helps doctors and scientists gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using iPhone apps. When granted permission by the user, the Asthma Health app can access health data from HealthKit to track exercise activity levels such as walking and running distance, take advantage of the GPS sensors built into iPhone to provide local air quality readings, and monitor asthma inhaler use as measured by third-party devices.

“To date, our Asthma Health study in the US has demonstrated the feasibility of reliably consenting participants and collecting rich data across a large, diverse population in a cost-effective and accelerated manner by digitising and automating the research processes that are traditionally labour intensive and time consuming,” said Director of Digital Health and Personalised Medicine at the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at Mount Sinai, Yu-Feng Yvonne Chan, MD, PhD.

“With the UK and Ireland launch, we will conduct a randomised controlled trial, specifically A/B testing a new app feature to assess its impact on engagement and the retention of recruited participants over time,” continued Chan.

CEO of LifeMap Solutions, Corey Bridges, added: “As we expand internationally with our Asthma Health app, we’re continuing to enhance it, making it even more effective and engaging for all users.”

“This new version of Asthma Health introduces enhanced air-quality readings from BreezoMeter, with an intuitive map of real-time data to help users and providers identify environmental triggers. And we’re working closely with clinical experts at Mount Sinai to develop new features that increase user knowledge and enhance doctor/patient visits. In addition to the features we recently announced, such as Doctor Dashboard and electronic medical record integration, we’re always honing our ‘gamification’ features to provide positive feedback and rewards to participants for daily usage in order to increase long-term retention and bolster powerful data collection,” concluded Bridges.

The Asthma Health app is available for free download in the App Store.

For more information contact news@eHealthNews.co.za, like us on Facebook or tweet us @eHealthNewsZA.