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Smiles Abound at AAAAI 2022

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The 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) held in Phoenix from February 25-28 did not disappoint! This meeting was the first in-person AAAAI event since 2019, and the energy and enthusiasm of the participants were palpable. Although masks were required inside the meeting spaces, the layout of the convention center and participating hotels made it such that attendees could walk, eat, and chat outside together in the sunny Phoenix weather. During that outdoor time, the masks came down and smiles were visible everywhere. With about 2,500 in-person attendees and almost 1,000 virtual attendees, I would say this meeting was a huge success.

The theme of the meeting centered around difficult-to-control asthma. The Presidential Plenary on Friday afternoon entitled “Digital Health and Remote Patient Monitoring for Patients with Difficult to Control Asthma” was timely in the pandemic era and set the stage for the rest of the weekend. This plenary discussed how digital health technologies and remote patient monitoring systems could be leveraged as a tool to support asthma patients and the clinicians caring for them to achieve better asthma outcomes.

The excitement surrounding digital health was apparent in many additional sessions throughout the weekend. Dr. Bill Anderson from the University of Colorado spoke about remote monitoring devices and apps used in the office to expand the scope of practice and increase practice success. Dr. Sunit Jariwala, Director of Clinical & Research Innovation at the Montefiore Health System, discussed the role of patient-facing mobile health technologies (i.e., smartphone and tablet-based apps) in asthma management. The academy president, Dr. Giselle Mosnaim, spoke eloquently on remote patient monitoring to improve asthma medication adherence. Dr. Paneez Khoury from the NIH led a fascinating session on artificial intelligence-based risk prediction in asthma. Dr. Marcus Shaker from Dartmouth discussed the clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction with remote management of asthma, anaphylaxis, and other allergic diseases. There was even a debate entitled, “Electronic Adherence Monitoring Improves Asthma Care.”

Some advantages of digital health practices include: patient empowerment to establish medication-taking routines, predict and avoid symptom triggers, and increase engagement with self-management and symptom monitoring. At a population level, proactive care identifies at-risk patients earlier. However, there are certainly barriers to using digital health and remote monitoring devices related to the users and the devices themselves. Overall, these sessions demonstrated that mobile health technologies and interventions have been linked to improvements in patient knowledge and medication adherence, improvements in asthma control and quality of life, and fewer unscheduled office visits.

 Many abstracts were presented orally on this matter as well. Some highlights include the study presented by Kevin Tang entitled “Assessing the impact of technology-based interventions on patient outcomes for asthma in the emergency room: A scoping review”; a study presented by Dr. Deborah Lee entitled “An Electronic App to Improve Satisfaction with Shared Decision-Making During Asthma Visits;” and a study presented by Vivian Hu entitled “Utility of Patient-Generated Health Data and Artificial Intelligence in the Prediction of Asthma Exacerbations.” The majority of the abstract presenters concluded that mobile health technologies such as telemedicine, digital spirometers, allergy- and asthma-based mobile apps, and interactive websites are undoubtedly on the rise and useful but require further real-world research and outcomes to be measured. 

Future areas to explore include: the cost-effectiveness of these technologies, availability to all types of patients (lower health literacy, low socioeconomic, or non-English speaking) in the real world, and sustained improvements in health outcomes. 

Lastly, several exhibitors showcased their digital technologies that can be used in the allergy, asthma, and immunology space. These included an at-home spirometer that helps patients and their doctors to have a daily understanding of lung health, medication use, and exposure to environmental risk factors; a digital health company focused on remote patient monitoring spirometry for allergy, asthma and other lung conditions; and another remote respiratory monitoring system. 

Dr. Sokol is employed by Schreiber Allergy. She has received consulting fees from Sanofi/Regeneron.

Image by BRO Vector / GettyImages

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