Mundipharma’s digital power for asthma patients

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By Suresh Nair

GOING digital is privately-owned global pharmaceutical giant Mundipharma’s latest breakthrough and in launching “breatherite” it delivers a personal experience by profiling patients based on their attitudes towards asthma management.

This is the latest in a series of digital health initiatives Mundipharma’s regional head office in Singapore recently developed wherein augmented reality technology are used to address errors in inhaler use among asthma sufferers.

Breatherite is a free app developed by Mundipharma and utilise augmented reality together with a range of smartphone sensors, delivering a personal asthma management solution with a focus on correcting errors in inhaler technique.

Significantly, Mr Raman Singh, Chief Executive Officer Mundipharma, says:  “With World Asthma Day approaching, we are proud to launch this unparalleled new solution, which gives people with asthma an opportunity to take greater control of their condition and exemplifies the new direction of Mundipharma.”

In a nutshell, the app engages the front-facing camera for facial mapping, the accelerometer and gyrometer to track inhaler preparation, the microphone to analyse inhalation and exhalation, along with augmented reality to visualise correct inhaler orientation and head alignment.

UNIQUE INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

Together, these features assess, and correct inhaler use as part of a unique interactive experience. It also enables patients to set medication reminders, receive lifestyle tips, real-time weather and air quality information.

The thumbs-up to the new apps was given by Adjunct Associate Professor Augustine Tee, Senior Consultant and Chief, Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Changi General Hospital, and Vice President of the Asthma and Allergy Association.

He says: “Achieving good asthma control is vital to reduce chronic symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath, minimise the reliance on relief medications, and maintain good lung function. This app will help patients take charge of asthma and has potential to improve quality of life through real-time monitoring of inhaler use and overall asthma management.”

In a 2016 large independent study, “The Systematic Review of Errors Inhaler Technique” 144 articles reporting on a total number of 54,354 subjects were summarised. The study concluded that “incorrect inhaler technique is unacceptably frequent and has not improved over the past 40 years, pointing to an urgent need for new approaches to education and drug delivery.”

REALITY TECHNOLOGY

Mr Raman Singh says: “The high rates of smartphone penetration across emerging markets and the inbuilt processing power of today’s mobile devices together with the increasing maturity of augmented reality technology have combined to create a real opportunity to tackle this decades-old problem.”

Research shows that there is an opportunity to improve the level of asthma control among patients in Asia-Pacific, where more than 70 per cent of patients overestimate their level of control and only 50 per cent of physicians check their patient’s inhaler technique frequently.

Low levels of asthma control have been identified to be largely due to incorrect inhaler technique including poor coordination, inadequate speed and depth of inhalation and post-inhalation breath holding.

Mundipharma’s Singapore Head Office also acts as an innovation hub where digital ideation and content creation takes place. In the last two years, mobile apps and digital initiatives have been developed for all its therapy areas – analgesia, oncology, oncology supportive care, ophthalmology, respiratory and consumer healthcare.

TREND SETTERS

Mundipharma, says Mr Singh, intends to be the trend setters and have been early adopters of innovative technology including, virtual reality, augmented reality and gamification.

These initiatives have been primarily focused on medical education for both doctors and patients and have been developed in response to ongoing unmet needs.

It intends to create an environment in which these ground-breaking initiatives can be rapidly developed, and deployed for doctors and patients in the emerging markets where Mundipharma operates, the organisation is transforming its whole business– from R&D to Supply Chain – to become a digital healthcare company.

“Mundipharma has embarked on an exciting and unique journey to become a digital healthcare company and own this space,” Mr Singh adds. “We are investing in new technology, and we’re prepared to undergo a bold transformation.”