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Next generation asthma care

There is no consistently reliable way to understand the frequency and effectiveness of inhaler use or the adherence to prescribed treatment plans


Currently asthma accounts for 2-3% of all primary care consultations at a cost of £52 million each year

Scotland has the highest prevalence for asthma in the world at a rate of 18.5% of the population. In the UK, 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma of which 1.1 million are children (1 out of every 11 children) and 4.3 million are adults (1 out of every 12 adults).

This makes improving asthma care much more difficult.

There is hope that emerging 5G technology could create a smart asthma inhaler that is truly independent of any other device.

Ultimately, such an inhaler could benefit users by allowing healthcare services to create more personalised and effective treatment plans and even provide early warning of an imminent asthma attack.

1255 people died from asthma in 2013 – divided by 365, this works out as 3.4 people per day.

Technologies already in existence, including smart inhalers, electronic alerts and digital action plans could be used to completely transform the NHS asthma care pathway by reducing routine GP appointments and enabling people to manage their own condition.

Learn more


Respiratory medicine has seen a rise in the number of new outpatient attendances from 2007 to 2014 of 78%.


We are working with the Scottish Government, and Edinburgh Napier University to co-design the service model for asthma enabled by 5G technology.


Work to date

Manufacturers of inhalers are working on the strategies to address the existing service problems, but these depend on the availability of real-time information derived from systems such as internet-connected asthma inhalers.

There are existing prototypes, such as using Bluetooth enabled inhalers connected to mobile phones. However, these suffer from significant limitations, including their effect on device battery life and the security of Bluetooth signals.

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