As the incidence of asthma continues to increase worldwide, current studies have indicated that the most prevalent challenge to the alleviation of asthma symptoms is undertreatment. Results of a controlled study in Denmark suggest that a physician-managed Internet-based asthma monitoring system can help patients optimize control over their asthma.
Danish physicians initiated a clinical trial using a random sample of 18- to 45-year-old asthmatic patients placed in three 100-patient groups: those treated by an asthma specialist using an Internet-based management tool that readily handles complex calculations, those treated by an asthma specialist in an outpatient clinic, and those treated by a general practitioner. Each patient had 2 scheduled visits 6 months apart, during which physicians performed spirometry, used methacholine challenge testing to measure airway responsiveness, interviewed the patient, and administered questionnaires. The purpose of the study was to evaluate and compare patients' outcomes, which included symptoms, lung function, airway responsiveness, and overall quality of life.
Although the Internet-based interactive tool did not in itself improve asthma outcomes, use of the tool led to immediate feedback, closer monitoring of the patient, more appropriate medication, and greater patient compliance, which together produced better overall outcomes than those attained by means of conventional asthma treatment. For example, the odds ratios favoring the Internet method were 3.26 for improved symptoms, 2.10 for improved quality of life, and 4.86 for improved forced expiratory volume in 1 second.