Optimize Patient Education on Correct Inhaler Techniques – Dr. Fiona Shetty
Introduction: Available data suggests that a high number of Asthma and COPD patients do not use inhalers correctly. Inhalers are complex tools that require patient education and motor skills to ensure delivery of the drug to the lungs. With the increasing number of inhaler devices, each of which requires different breathing patterns and instructions, targeted patient education has become a critical issue.
Barriers to Current Patient Education: Commonly used tools for education on inhaler technique include verbal, written, video instructions and/or hands on demonstration. Healthcare personnel are the most common source of patient education. However, published studies suggest that as many as 25% of patients with asthma or COPD have never received verbal inhaler technique instruction. When given, instruction is often rushed; of poor quality and often not reinforced.1 Only an estimated 11% of patients receive follow-up assessment and education on their inhaler technique.2 Healthcare providers often have poor knowledge of inhalers3 and lack time to devote to patient education. Common patient related factors such as language barriers, educational level, and self-efficacy are further compounded in older patients by visual impairment and physical handicaps such as arthritis and/or cognitive impairment. These patients need more time and repetition to learn to use multiple inhalers.
Overcoming the Barriers: UseInhalers Team believes that using an interactive online audio-visual self-learning tool customized for individual patient’s needs and capabilities offers many advantages:
- Reduce burden on providers and empower patients.
- Use of patient’s own language and interactive animations to improve retention of information.
- Step by step coaching by an online instructor in correct breathing techniques can help patients master the breathing pattern appropriate for the device.
- Real time practice feature provides step by step visual feedback. Patients can record and share their technique with their physicians for review. Timely corrections can improve treatment outcome.
- Providing do’s and dont’s that highlight common mistakes for each inhaler device with visual interpretation of each step, as to what happens when an inhaler is taken incorrectly.
- Useful tips to remember can prevent critical errors and reduce drug wastage.
- Single trusted site with comprehensive training on inhaler devices for patients and healthcare professionals (who can earn CME credits too).
Conclusion: Learning and retention of inhaler technique is a critical element in Asthma and COPD treatment. A novel approach to patient education is needed as reliance on current inefficient methods used by healthcare providers is clearly inadequate. To improve patient participation and enhance initial learning and retention, technologic advancements and mobile devices can be leveraged to deliver quality patient education in inhaler techniques.
- Lavorini F, et al. Effect of incorrect use of dry powder inhalers on management of patients with asthma and COPD. Respir Med 2008; 102: 593–604.
- Basheti IA, et al. Counseling about Turbuhaler technique: needs assessment and effective strategies for community pharmacists. Respir Care 2005; 50: 617–23.
- Hanania NA et al. Medical personnel’s knowledge of and ability to use inhaling devices. Metered-dose inhalers, spacing chambers, and breath-actuated dry powder inhalers. Chest 1994; 105:111-116