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Last Updated:  Monday, 3 March, 2003, 17:46 GMT
Mobiles used to monitor asthma
Woman using the e-San asthma monitoring devices
Asthma sufferers can send information instantly
Asthma suffers could soon benefit from a system which allows them to keep check their condition via mobile phone.

The system hooks an electronic lung capacity measuring device - known as a peak flow meter - up to a mobile phone which gathers, records and submits accurate asthma data in real-time to doctors.

Currently asthma patients need to monitor and record their lung capacity on a daily basis, and visit their doctor every three months to have their condition assessed.

But the system is inaccurate and it also does not allow for immediate action to improve the condition.

Mobile monitoring

This system, the brainchild of telemedicine firm e-San, will allow doctors to receive immediate alerts of patients whose conditions have deteriorated.

Prof Lionel Tarassenko
The ability to generate automatic messages to patients will also save time and resources for hard-pressed GPs
Prof Lionel Tarassenko, Oxford University
Initially 100 asthma patients in the Slough area of the UK will be given a free mobile device - O2's XDA, which is a combined phone and personal digital assistant for the duration of the trial.

There are around 3.5 million asthmatics in the UK, which has one of the worse records for the condition in Europe.

Clive Peggram, Chief Executive of e-San, is convinced that mobile monitoring of conditions such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure will become the norm.

"In two or three year's time people will routinely use their mobile phone for the management of chronic conditions," he said.

Benefits for doctors

He thinks that applications such as the asthma monitoring could be sold as part of the uses of future mobile phones.

Professor Lionel Tarassenko, co-founder of e-San and Professor of Engineering Science at Oxford University, said the device will benefit both patients and doctors.

"Research has shown that effective self or assisted management of asthma reduces the severity of symptoms and the risk of hospitalisation," he said.

"The ability to generate automatic messages to patients will also save time and resources for hard-pressed GPs," he added.

You can hear more on this story in the BBC World Service programme, Go Digital.

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