Researchers believe the COVID-19 pandemic may have influenced increases in medication adherence for patients with asthma and COPD between January and March 2020, according to data by ResMed and Propeller Health published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

Daily controller medications are essential for patients with asthma and COPD, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Controlling primary respiratory diseases with proper medication use can improve disease outcomes and reduce acute events requiring medical care, which could inadvertently expose a patient to COVID-19.

The study analyzed the adherence of controller inhaler use for 7,578 patients using Propeller Health’s “smart inhaler,” which tracks inhaler use and send alerts to patients about missed doses. According to the data, there was a 14.5% relative increase in average daily controller medication adherence from January 1-7, 2020 to March 25-31, 2020. In addition, the number of patients achieving a 75% threshold of medication adherence increased from 14.9% (Jan 1-7) to 53% (Mar 25-31).

The study authors believe that the observed trend may be attributable to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic guidelines regarding medication use, as well as patients’ desire to keep their pre-existing respiratory disease under control at this time.

There were no statistically significant differences in improved medication adherence between asthma and COPD patients during the study period. The data showed similar medication adherence increases across all age groups, with older patients overall showing a higher baseline adherence.

“We are encouraged by the increase in patient adherence to their medications for asthma and COPD, which is critical to avoiding symptoms and keeping patients out of the hospital during this pandemic,” said first author Leanne Kaye, PhD, MPH. “This research further supports that digital health tools can improve adherence and provide insight into patient well-being between office visits.”