Testing Air Quality
Data is collected from sensors placed in the environment itself, embedded into the landscape or architecture. The weather forecast is also consulted to display which conditions are expected. The smartphone would also have a sensor attached to it as a peripheral, actively monitoring the environment. Additional sensors carried by the user/patient would be the final source of fresh data.
Taking advantage of these applications would allow people with COPD to not only be aware of the dangers in the environment currently surrounding them, but also receive a warning about environments they plan on visiting in the future. For example, if someone with COPD wants to attend a concert venue, they could see the data streamed from on-site sensors.
The data is compared against the local weather forecast, offering a fairly accurate prediction of the environmental situation, and can assist the user in making a reasonably accurate assessment. Since COPD and weather changes can affect your day drastically, this information is crucial.
Do We Need These Apps?
Apps can be useful tools to help patients better manage their conditions, but whether apps can be user-friendly enough is another question.
Manufacturers are refining their apps to allow patients to enter details about how they’re feeling on particular days with these details being sent to doctors so they can determine whether an exacerbation is imminent and what course of action needs to be taken.
The developers should be looking at easy-to-use apps that patients can benefit from either through the information it provides or the information it can send to medical professionals.
Will Apps Work?
With the advancement with technologies one gets the feeling that smartphone apps will change quickly, but whether patients can keep up with the rapid changes is concerning.
My opinion is that the world of apps maybe a little too soon for some patients and I’m only speaking from what I’ve seen patients can cope with.
While many elderly patients have transitioned well into modern technology, many haven’t and given that a higher percentage of patients with COPD are over 65, I fear that this technology will frighten them off.
While daunting, these new technologies will become a part of health monitoring whether we like it or not. In time generational change will mean that smartphone apps will become accepted and older patients will either have to accept change or miss the boat.
However, in saying that, imagine a world where COPD can be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This would go a long way towards better management of COPD as well as reducing hospital readmission.
Which App is For Me?
If you decide to enter the world of smartphone apps, then your choice is relatively limited at the moment. Most of the apps available have similar features, with some more user friendly than others.
If you’re overwhelmed by the thought then maybe the free app offered by the COPD Foundation is a good place to start, as I’ve found it easy to use and full of useful information. If you’re looking for something more social, then The COPD Team may be for you.
Whether you find this new technological frontier appealing or not, I would urge everyone to at least have a look at what’s on offer as one day it willed ably be the new reality.