Suffolk Primary Care has partnered with health-tech startup Aide Health for a 12-month programme supporting patients with asthma, designed to improve preventer inhaler use and stop the overuse of reliever inhalers.  

Reliever inhalers (short-acting beta2-agonist or SABA), which unlike preventer inhalers do not treat the underlying causes of asthma, are being overused across the UK. Research suggests that 83% of all SABA inhalers are prescribed to asthmatic patients who are potentially overusing the reliever medication. Asthma death rates in the UK are amongst the highest in Europe. 

The prescription of three or more SABA inhalers per year is considered poor asthma control, yet this applies to over one in three (38%) of users in the UK. At the same time, there is a lack of education surrounding preventer inhalers, which if used correctly each day, can suppress inflammation that leads to an increased risk of asthma exacerbations.  

Using natural language, Aide has short, daily conversations with patients to help them manage their asthma day-to-day by reminding them when and how to use their preventer inhaler. In turn, this should reduce the need to use the SABA inhaler.  

Aide demonstrated its success in a recent NHS pilot in North Yorkshire, which targeted those with asthma as well as people with type 2 diabetes. Aide users achieved an average adherence of 75%. This is significantly greater than the 40-50% average adherence of medication in general.  

Aide also helps patients track their symptoms and any agreed monitoring such as peak flow; provides structured education; and improves shared decision-making between the clinician and patient. 

Supporting over 130,000 patients across nine GP practices, Suffolk Primary Care hopes the partnership with Aide will help Suffolk practices to continue to meet and exceed the appropriate level of SABA inhaler dispensing, whilst creating a positive change in the SABA/preventer inhaler dispensing ratio.  

Dr Neil Macey, medical director at Suffolk Primary Care, said: “We are pleased to be partnering with Aide to give our patients the opportunity to use technology to improve the way they manage their asthma. We hope that it will help to enhance the lives of patients living with asthma across Suffolk, whilst also increasing their knowledge of the condition and confidence in managing it successfully.” 

In November, Aide secured £1.2 million in pre-seed funding for its platform to help patients manage long-term conditions.