Magazine article Drug Topics

A Breath of Fresh Air?

Magazine article Drug Topics

A Breath of Fresh Air?

Article excerpt

New peak flow

monitor connects

to physician

AirWatch, a peak flow monitoring system designed to aid and enhance asthma care compliance, is now available to the public. The system was developed over a three-year period by ENACT Health Management Systems Inc., Research Triangle Park, N.C.

AirWatch not only measures Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF) and Forced Expiratory Volume in One Second (FEV1), it also reports this information to the patient's doctor. After using the device, the patient simply connects AirWatch to a standard telephone jack and transmits the data to AirWatch Central, a database center, via a toll-free number. Once the information is received, it is stored in the database, and a report is faxed to the doctor's office. This new device allows physicians to review a patient's condition just two minutes after the information has been sent by the patient.

Patients use AirWatch daily and send their data once a month. However, they may send their data at any time, day or night, if they are experiencing an emergency. The monitor costs $50, and ENACT will replace it once free of charge if a patient breaks or loses the device. The annual fee for the database service is $100, based upon 12 regular transmissions and about 20 emergency transmissions each year. The company plans to leave use unrestricted as long as it is not abused by patients.

ENACT believes the monitor has been designed for easy use. "Coach Wilby," an icon character, indicates whether patients are following instructions properly. A telephone icon also flashes during the transmission and stops after the data have been received. A smile from Coach Wilby assures patients that the transmission has been successfully completed.

Gil Mott, senior v.p. of ENACT, believes that the AirWatch system can improve the quality of patients' lives and reduce health-care costs. "I think most of health care is moving to try to keep people out of the hospital and avoid expensive intervention. The speed with which one intervenes during an asthma attack is crucial to the outcome. AirWatch helps physicians respond quickly to emergencies," he said.

ENACT is sponsoring a large study spearheaded by some of the nation's leading pharmacoeconomics experts. A year-long trial, which is scheduled to begin this month, will be conducted through major health plans.

"We want to show that by improving the relationship between the patient and the doctor, you can avert expensive costs. …

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