Medical devices specialist QIoT Ltd has been awarded funding to develop a smart inhaler that tells clinicians remotely whether patients are getting enough medication for respiratory conditions.
The Paisley firm has received almost £50,000 from Innovate UK to work on the Internet of Things device which provides health professionals with an early warning of erratic or unexpected inhaler usage.
QIoT says it could save the lives of asthma and COPD sufferers who might fall under the radar of health services during the Covid lockdown if patients are not seen as regularly.
The AI platform it connects with takes into account seasonal factors, pollen counts and individuals’ medical history and could identify potentially dangerous clusters of people with respiratory conditions such as Covid-19.
Chief executive Frank Quinn said: “At present physicians have no way of knowing whether asthma/COPD medication via inhalers is being taken in the prescribed dosages.
“Our project will empower physicians to proactively respond to patients who over or under-use their medications. We aim to trial this with NHS Scotland. In time it will set new standards in the dispensing and consumption of asthma/COPD medication during and post Covid-19.”
Asthma UK says three-fifths of people with asthma in the UK are not receiving the most basic level of care and two thirds of all asthma deaths would be preventable if medication were taken as prescribed.
Quinn added: “In response to Covid-19, physicians have changed the medication prescription for their asthma/COPD patients to cover all bases and to minimise the spread of the virus. However, they still do not know whether patients take their medication as prescribed.
“Our smart, connected inhaler would provide this information in real time, improving patient care and helping to reduce costly emergency admissions; offering considerable improvement on any current manual processes.”
Dr Jonathon McDevitt, an GP based in Dumbarton, said: “This is an exciting innovative technology with the potential to be applied in a diverse range of clinical settings. It will enable a wide spectrum of health care professionals to easily access past and present data of patients’ inhalers usage.
“Having access to this information will be extremely valuable during the Covid pandemic and should result in patients being able to take better ownership of their asthma management and reduce anxiety levels both in the current climate and longer term.”
Dr Ian Campbell, executive chair of Innovate UK, said: “Businesses from all over the UK have answered our call rapidly to meet the challenges we face today and in the future through the power of innovation. The ideas we have seen can truly make a significant impact on society, improve the lives of individuals, especially those in vulnerable groups, and enable businesses to prosper in challenging circumstances.”
QioT hopes to have the smart inhaler and AI platform operational by October this year and, if adopted across the NHS in Scotland, predicts demand could be worth up to £24 million. QIoT intends to create another 19 jobs.