The Patient and the Pocketbook

May 01, 2002

A recent study in the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine found that a tabletop asthma monitoring device can help improve kids' asthma management skills and positively affect health outcomes.

The study compared inner-city children who used the Health Buddy-a device that monitors patients' clinical conditions through question and answer sessions-to those who kept a written asthma diary. Patients randomized to the Health Buddy group were 48 percent less likely to have their activity limited by asthma and had significantly lower odds of making urgent phone calls to the hospital.

Health Buddy users answer daily personalized questions that monitor their symptoms, medication compliance, and disease knowledge. The information is uploaded to "care managers," who review responses and stratify patients into risk categories. Physicians are then sent iCare Reports, which identify the high-risk groups, enabling them to follow up with selected patients to intervene-and help avoid costly acute care.

Health Hero Network, Health Buddy's manufacturer, says the device empowers kids to control their symptoms through education and reinforces compliance with prescriptions. With the number of US children suffering from asthma at five million and rising, the device might reduce asthma's burden on the healthcare system by allowing healthcare organizations to effectively track and manage large groups of patients, helping tokeep asthma in check.

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