The T-Haler is a training device developed by Cambridge Consultants to help asthma patients learn how to use their inhalers. Why is this such a cool piece of technology? Because patients invariably do a crapy job using their inhalers.
I used to ask asthma patients to demonstrate how they used their inhalers, and I was almost alwaysÂ disappointedÂ by what I saw. Most patients don’t understand how to properly use these simple little devices, which ultimately leads to treatment problems, and in worst case scenarios poor control of their asthma. Â This is especially true in pediatric patients. Asthma education was a big part of the pharmacist’s job when I worked in a pediatric hospital.
From the Cambridge Consultants site:
Cambridge Consultants developed the T-Haler concept, a simple training device. Interactive software, linked to a wireless training inhaler, monitors how a patient uses their device and provides real-time feedback via an interactive video â€˜gameâ€™. T-Haler provides visual feedback to the user on their performance and the areas that need improvement. These tools could help the estimated 235 million asthma sufferers worldwide to get the most from their inhaler, and potentially reduce the millions spent annually on asthma-related emergency room admissions.
More than 50 healthy participants, aged 18-60, took part in a recent study conducted by Cambridge Consultants to test the efficacy of T-Haler. Before using the training system, the average success rate of the group in using an inhaler correctly was in the low 20% range â€“ in line with numerous other studies carried out. The participants had no prior experience with asthma or inhalers and were given no human instruction beyond being handed the T-Haler and told to begin. The on-screen interface walked the group through the process, which takes just three minutes to complete.
The T-Haler measures three key factors for proper inhaler use. First, whether the patient has shaken the inhaler prior to breathing in; second, the force with which they breathed in; third, when they pressed down on the canister (the step which releases the drug). These three variables can determine the efficacy with which drugs are delivered in a real metered dose inhaler (MDI) device.
As healthcare trends toward a focus on preventive care and devices which offer greater consumer appeal and compliance, innovations such as the T-Haler may soon become the norm in doctorsâ€™ offices, pharmacies and clinics.