Mapping Asthma

A new device tracks the use of personal inhalers:

[David Van Sickle, founder and CEO of Asthmapolis] says the project grew out of his work at the CDC, investigating outbreaks of respiratory illness, and then again working in clinical practice. "There’s a ton of variability of asthma within micro-environments," he says. This means that it’s crucial to get precise information about where and how often they need their puffer. This data is very hard to collect.

"Historically in asthma we haven’t done much except provide patients with a rationale for keeping pen and paper and encouraging them to bring them to their next visit," says Van Sickle. The problem is that no one likes doing this; it’s just one more burden that comes with the disease. So people forget, or procrastinate, or try to guess. "We know those diaries are often inaccurate," he says, "They’re generally fabricated."