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O2's link provides doctors with vital data on asthma.

O2 is providing the technology, and sponsoring the trial, of a pioneering asthma monitoring system that aims to improve significantly management of the condition in the UK.

The solution uses an electronic peak flow meter connected to the xda from O2 to gather, record and submit accurate asthma data in real-time, enabling GPs to monitor and manage the condition more effectively and detect early signs of an asthma attack. It is the first time mobile technology has been used in such a trial in the UK.

The xda from O2 combines a colour personal digital assistant (PDA) with mini PC capability and a mobile handset. It provides full colour Internet access, web-based email, extensive mobile phone capabilities and personal organiser features. The solution was developed by e-San Limited, with the Department of Engineering Science at Oxford University.

Currently, asthma patients monitor and record their lung capacity daily and visit their GP or asthma clinic every three months for analysis. The process means that symptoms can only be discussed retrospectively.

By providing accurate asthma data in real-time, the e-San/xda solution allows the treatment of asthma to be more proactive. This provides benefits to the patient and to GPs and the National Health Service, as fewer avoidable emergency hospitalisations and call-outs will result in time and cost efficiencies.

O2 is providing the equipment, mobile network and funding for the year-long trial in the Thames Valley, an area with the highest incidence of asthma in the UK. The trial, which began on February 1, will monitor 100 asthma sufferers aged 12 to 55.

Professor Lionel Tarassenko of Oxford University's Department of Engineering Science and co-founder of e-San said: "Research has shown that effective self or assisted management of asthma reduces the severity of symptoms and the risk of hospitalisation. As a result, emergency visits by GPs will also decrease. We believe that the c-San/xda solution will ensure better management of the condition, because of its ease-of-use, the automatic sending of readings to allow real time monitoring of the condition, and the filtering of information to ensure that the GP is alerted only to readings that need to be acted upon."

The ability to generate automatic messages to patients will also save time and resources for hard-pressed GPs.

"The intention is to improve the quality of life of asthma sufferers and enable GPs to use their time more effectively. Ultimately we hope our solution will result in improved management of the condition and a reduction in critical events. O2's generous support of this project allows us to test the solution robustly before rolling it out for general use and for the clinical trial of new asthma drugs.

"It is a pleasure to be working with a company that is prepared to provide its technology and support to develop solutions that will make a real impact on people's lives."

The trial is being funded by mmO2's Can Do in the Community programme which seeks to support projects that deliver benefits to the community through the application of mobile technology.

Peter Erskine, CEO of mmO2 said: "This is an exciting application of mobile technology to a serious health issue that affects communities across Europe and particularly in the UK. We welcome the chance to prove that such technology can make a real difference to

people's lives. We are especially pleased to offer support to the trial in the Thames Valley region as this is where many of our staff are based."

The British Thoracic Society supports the trial. Dr Nabil Jarad, Chairman of the BTS Research Committee and Consultant Respiratory Physician at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, commented: "This system could be applied to many respiratory conditions where continuous monitoring of lung function is of value. Asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease are two examples. The e-San/xda system could also help in recognising the relationship between symptoms and the workplace, when asthma is suspected to be work-related. It could be of help in understanding and supporting patients who have continuous symptoms at home, such as young patients with cystic fibrosis who tend to under-estimate their illness."

The results of the trial will be published in relevant medical journals and interim results will be published in GP publications.
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 10, 2003
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