Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Geisinger and AstraZeneca enable remote asthma monitoring

Steve Rogerson
July 25, 2018

Pennsylvania-based Geisinger has partnered Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to improve asthma care by creating a suite of products that integrate into the electronic health record. The goal is to engage patients and providers in co-managing the disease, especially during intervals between doctor visits.
The mobile app data are connected to a real-time, web-based application called Provider Asthma Management Assistant. The assistant combines EHR and patient-reported data feeds to enable asthma educators and respiratory therapists to triage patients on the fly and bring in specialists as needed. 
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease where the airways in the lungs become swollen or inflamed making it difficult to breath. Asthma symptoms can vary over time and an asthma attack can be triggered by environmental exposure or allergies. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed.
“Asthma symptoms can be unpredictable and breathing issues don’t always occur in the doctor’s office,” said Tosh Butt, vice president of AstraZeneca. “A tool to help patients and physicians stay connected and share information in real time is what connected health is all about. AstraZeneca’s partnership with Geisinger is focused on how we can arm patients and physicians with digital tools with the intention of speeding diagnosis and treatment decisions. This is an exciting time in patient care.”
The asthma app suite includes a mobile app that allows patients to view asthma-related weather forecasts, log symptoms and asthma triggers, establish medication reminders, track health status over time, and, crucially, communicate with their healthcare team. 
“Patients sometimes do a lot worse with their asthma than we know based on a three, six or nine month periodic office visit,” said Paul Simonelli, chair of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Geisinger. “This new suite of products could easily be adapted to any long-term chronic respiratory illness that needs monitoring, including COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”
Some asthma patients can have multiple attacks per week, and it isn’t feasible or necessary to see a doctor every time. With the app products, attacks and symptoms can be tracked and monitored in real time by the full spectrum of the health care team.
Geisinger and AstraZeneca’s partnership in developing the asthma app suite uses scientific expertise from both companies in disease management, patient engagement, adherence, healthcare innovation, research and technology to redesign how asthma patients are diagnosed and treated. The picture shows AstraZeneca’s R&D centre in Cambridge, UK.
“Using technology to improve patient outcomes and move healthcare forward – as these products do – meshes neatly with the overall translational nature of Geisinger research,” said David Ledbetter, executive vice president and chief scientific officer.
Geisinger is an integrated health services organisation recognised for its use of the electronic health record and the development of care delivery models such as ProvenHealth Navigator, ProvenCare and ProvenExperience. It serves more than three million residents throughout 45 counties in central, south-central and northeast Pennsylvania, and also in southern New Jersey at AtlantiCare, a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient.
In 2017, the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine and Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital became the newest members of the Geisinger Family.
The physician-led system is comprised of approximately 30,000 employees, including nearly 1600 employed physicians, 13 hospital campuses, two research centres, and a 583,000-member health plan, all of which leverage an estimated $12.7bn positive impact on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey economies.