Their collegiate sports programs may be bitter, cross-city rivals, but that isn’t stopping researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) and University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) from collaborating on a smartphone app and cloud services platform that will predict the probability of a child’s future asthma attack and provide personalized risk management advice.
According to a USC news report, the integrative Biomedical Real-Time Health Evaluation (BREATHE) platform is a potentially revolutionary approach to managing asthma, one of the most common chronic childhood diseases.
“We think this is the future for asthma care,” Frank Gilliland, a professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and co-principal investigator of the project said in the news release. “We will use real-time, high-volume information about physiology, symptoms, medication use and environmental exposures. This ‘big data’ will help physicians manage patients better and prevent exacerbations. It is a personalized medicine approach that evaluates potential real-time environmental triggers, genetics and a child’s asthma attack history.”
The platform will crunch data from children’s wearable devices, smartphones and individual electronic health records as well as real-time reports on weather conditions, air quality, pollen and allergy forecasts, and other “asthma triggers,” the report noted. The algorithm will supply contextual information in a secure, cloud-based system.
Researchers will test the platform on 8- to 12-year-old children with asthma. The algorithm scientists are developing will analyze data from the landmark USC Children’s Health Study, a litany of contextual data from environmental sensors and a history of previous asthma attacks. When exacerbating conditions arise again, the asthma app may remind a child or caregiver to bring an inhaler or medicine to ward off a future asthma attack.
“Asthma weighs heavily on the nation in terms of public health, medical costs and quality of life,” said Alex Bui, also a principal investigator in this study and professor of radiological sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “One of the biggest challenges will be making the smart device user-friendly for young children. Kids like intuitive interfaces with bright colors, simple language, big text and quirky noises. We’re having fun exploring how to build those facets into our design.”