Can texting help manage asthma?

A pharmacist texting

Data access has been approved for a project to evaluate a pharmacist-initiated adherence intervention effort for asthma patients that involves education, monthly text messages and pharmacist follow-up of non-adherent patients.

The EmPhAsIS (Empowering Pharmacists in Asthma Management through Interactive SMS) study is led by Dr. Mary De Vera, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The multidisciplinary team have expertise in outcomes research in asthma, pharmacy practice, and evaluating mobile health technologies in improving medication adherence.

“Considering the prevalence of asthma, the extent of the non-adherence problem in this disease, and the availability of effective treatments, there is a tremendous potential to reduce the burden of this disease through improving adherence,” says Dr. De Vera. “This is the first study of an intervention based on mobile communication technology involving community pharmacists in asthma management.”

Between 8% and 12% of Canadians suffer from asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways, characterized by recurrent, but reversible, episodes of shortness of breath, tightness of the chest, coughing, and wheezing. Asthma affects individuals of all ages and imposes a significant burden to the patient and the health care system. According to Statistics Canada's 2010 report, more than 2.4 million Canadians 12 years or older report that they have been diagnosed by a health professional as having asthma.

“Quality outpatient care can help to prevent adverse asthma-related outcomes such as hospitalizations, emergency department visits, or deaths. As such, efforts on improving outpatient care in asthma can have substantial return on investment,” Dr. De Vera explains.

The project is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the College of Pharmacists of BC, and UBC’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

PopData will link the following datasets for the project:

  • PharmaNet (BC Ministry of Health)
  • Consolidation File (BC Ministry of Health)
  • Medical Services Plan (BC Ministry of Health)
  • Discharge Abstracts Database (BC Ministry of Health)
  • National Ambulatory Care Reporting Systems (BC Ministry of Health)
  • Researcher-collected data sets