17 April 2018

Digital Health in Respiratory Care

Cambridge’s medical innovation community is exploring how digital technology can help to support and enhance respiratory clinical care.

Cambridge’s thriving and dynamic medical innovation community is right on the doorstep of our office. This gives us the opportunity to attend great events such as this one hosted by Cambridge locals MedImmune and Cambridge Network. The event focused on how digital health might shape the future of respiratory care and what opportunities and challenges there are in the space.

The most widely publicised innovations in this therapeutic area are Propeller Health’s and Amiko’s smart inhaler sensors. But the applications of digital health in respiratory are much broader than this. Owlstone Medical, one of the speakers at the event, for example is developing breath biopsy technology. The system uses volatile organic compound (VOC) biomarker discovery and validation for early detection of diseases such as lung and colorectal cancer.

The event also include a MedImmune sponsored ‘Digital Health Technology Challenge’ which challenged technology entrepreneurs to demonstrate their novel solutions to problems in drug development. The winning company was CRiL, a Cambridgeshire based start-up, which is developing a LED-based CO2 sensor. The sensor is designed to measure lung performance and provide personalised alerts to the user, with the intent of minimising avoidable hospitalisations, improving outcomes and reducing healthcare costs. The team at CRiL anticipates that their device will be available for use in clinical trials from Q1 2019 and for commercial licensed use in COPD Asthma from 2020/21.

The mix of industry and academic delegates as well as the engaging presentations from MedImmune, Arm, Owlstone, Pneumacare and Mologic made for some really interesting discussions. We would, however, have liked to hear some more clinician, patient and caregiver perspectives on the technology, attitudes to using it and what potential impact it could have on clinical practice and patient quality of life.

From previous work we have done breaking down perception barriers can be the most crucial and difficult step in the adoption of new technology. From clinicians concerns about how much additional time a new device will require to perceptions that patients will be resistant to using and therefore won’t engage fully with a device. As start-ups such as CRiL continue down their development journey capturing user insights and the implications for development, positioning and launch strategy will help to support successful adoption. 

If you work in respiratory digital health and want to discuss a project, please get in touch via contact@vox.bio