What Asthma Treatments Can Learn from Diabetes Care
Asthma and related breathing conditions affect 300 million people worldwide. This has recently been a focus of public concerns due to the implications of NHS cuts and the cost-of-living crisis for those already at risk. In recent years, Recipe Design haveworkedboth in respiratory care andin the adjacent sector of diabetes, helping pharmaceutical manufacturers, healthcare professionals and patientscreate innovative new devices and new approaches to patient care.
With this in mind, we have selected somekey opportunitieswhererespiratory care can learn frommodern diabetes treatment. Our hope is that these changes will allow patients to be more aware and responsive to their condition, leading to better treatment at a lower environmental cost.
Connected Healthcare for Personal Responsive Treatment
With both conditions,patients struggle to achieve the correct dosage consistently, with a high margin for user error. Diabetes treatment has been able to address this with smart technology such as the hybrid closed loop system or “artificial pancreas”. Here a continuous glucose monitor (often worn by olympic athletes) communicates with an insulin pump to automatically calculate and deliver the optimal insulin dose.
The system is medically efficient butalso has an aesthetic advantage over previous solutions. Operating from a smartphone app,this is a good example of how diabetes treatment has shifted beyond the basic management of a condition. With semi-invisible patches and discreet devices, consideration has been given to the patient’s lifestylewith efforts to reduce boththe physical and visual impact of diabetes. It has received praise from users for its intuitive and semi-automatic nature as well as the effect it has on the mental burden of living with a condition.
The Power and Accessibility of Branded Healthcare
The NHS has partnered with several brands such as Dexcom and Medtronic Diabetes Europe to make these devices available through purchase or prescription. Each device has been regulated through MHRA and several payment plans are available to aide with accessibility.
Competition in the market led togreater public discourse and comparison between devices, shifting the dynamic in personal condition management far beyond discussions of basic compliance and maintenance.Glucose monitors are even advertised in commercial breaks and tagged and referenced in Instagram posts and newspaper articles. Smart brands with the smoothest user journeys at an acceptable price (or free with a prescription) has transformed how Diabetes patients live with their condition.
Personalised Treatment to Educate, Innovate and Prevent
In the same way that diabetes is diagnosed as Type 1 or Type 2 with symptoms appearing at different stages of life, asthma can occur in children or present itself as a late onset condition.
When conditions affect such large numbers of people in different stages of life, standardised treatments will have varying levels of efficacy. An athletic person may take encouragement from an app that shows their health improving, others may find them isolating or an unfriendly reminder that their body is in decline. As the numbers of late onset patients increases, it is critical to consider how the condition may be delayed further or avoided entirely. Having an array of options to suit different users is crucial, as well as cutting out ‘nasty surprises’by educating.
According to the NHS, their world leading Diabetes Prevention Programme has resulted in a 7% reduction in the number of new diagnoses of Type 2 diabetes in England between 2018 and 2019. With advice on healthy eating and exercise, has enabled those people to avoid the condition and the cost of treatment altogether.
Patient Enthusiasm: Removing the Barriers to Effective Self Treatment
We live in a world where we as users struggle to read instructions. Even the cleverly designed “quickstart guides” that accompany premium consumer electronics are often bypassed.As most treatments for both asthma and diabetes are performed by the patient themselves, patient engagement is a cornerstone of quality treatment.
Removing barriers to Diabetes care involved finding alternatives to unpleasant touchpoints such as finger prick tests. In some cases, these have been replaced with needle-less injections, inhaled insulin and “smart patches” to make monitoring glucose levels easier. Similarly, Asthma.org describes how ‘good asthma management is about prevention of attacks, so when asthma is well managed, most people should have little or no need for their reliever inhaler’. If managed with care, a well-tailored, holistic approach to respiratory treatment could lead to an improvement for asthma sufferers and a dramatic reduction in waste.
Device Refills and Reconditioning
The NHS has set a target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2045 with an 80% reduction by 2028 to 2032. One of the key areas of scrutiny is the blue, plastic, metered dose inhaler. As a heavy producer of CFCs overprescribing of the blue pMDI has resulted in a heavy dependence on this device by patients, at a high environmental cost. Supporting patients in a shift to preventative methods and new technologies is hopefully a way to improve both their quality of life and carbon emissions.
Diabetes treatment offer a broad range of refillable and smart insulin pens, however legislation will have to change if asthma devices are going to follow suit. It is currently not possible to receive refill cannisters for the standard pMDI leading to thousands of plastic casings being sent to landfill each year. In the coming years we expect to see a growing focus on device cleaning and reconditioning as well as further discussions on the dangers of over prescription.
According to Asthma UK,£900 million of NHS money is spent on asthma drugs each year in England alone. At Recipe Design, we have seen significant advances in the cultural and consumer understanding of wellness and healthcare. We have also watched the wastage discussion evolve as new knowledge of overprescribing and poor patient technique has come to light. Correct usage, understanding of user behaviour, barriers and triggers as well as partnerships with intelligent technology to support and monitor conditions can have hugely positive effects on patient physical and mental wellness as well as prescription numbers and hospital costs.
The Recipe team will be attending the DDL 2022 (Drug Delivery to the Lungs) Conference in Edinburgh from 7th-9th December 2022. Reach out to Emma Dunipace (email@example.com) if you would like to find out more about our Meaning Centred Design™ approach to healthcare innovation.