Technology, self-tracking, and asthma
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In my previous post on peak flows, I mentioned that I’m a bit of a Quantified Self nerd—the basis of quantified self being nicely summated in their tagline “Self-knowledge through numbers”. By self-tracking a variety of information about your life, and not just letting your doctor do it, you can gain a lot of insight about your own body. And of course, this applies to asthma.
My nerd-ness also means that of all of the free (and occasionally paid) asthma apps out there, I’ve tried most of them. I’ve also tried a few do-it-yourself solutions. While I’ve discovered that there are simply no perfect (at least, not for me) asthma applications out there on the iOS landscape (Android users may have better options!), here’s a quick review of a few of the most popular ones out there. Of these, I’ve selected ones that have been almost-a-good-fit for me to review.

Here are the criteria I use to determine a passible asthma-specific app:

  • Cost: Free [3 points] to $1.99 USD [1 point]
  • Features: Peak flow logging, peak flow graph, medication logging, and trigger tracking. Some customization. [1 point each]
  • App can be set up within 5 minutes [1 point], entries can be logged within 1-2 minutes [1 point]

Bonuses: FEV1 logging, reminders, cloud/app/HealthKit sync, CSV download. [1 point each]
Updated: Within the last 3 years (April 2013 or later) [2013 = 0 points, 2014 = 1 point, January to August 2015 = 2 points, after August 2015 = 3 points; simply, too many apps are abandoned, so hopefully this helps to represent ongoing work on the application]
Excluded from my review: apps that I deleted within a day of download because they were too cumbersome; apps that are after 3/4 of the way down my AppStore search (because if I’m not going to scroll that far, not a lot of people are!). I think my standards are high, but not unreasonable.

I’ve reviewed 7 apps below. I also wanted to review Asthma 360, however, on the signup page it would not allow me to enter gender and would also not allow me to proceed without entering this data—unfortunate, as it is the only app of the bunch that has geotags and predictive functions. Hopefully they will resolve this and I’ll be able to update this post another time.

My Fight Against Asthma | 12/20 {iOS only}

  • Cost: Free
  • Features:
    Peak flow logging with graph, medication logging, trigger list/tracker (no ability to add custom triggers), Asthma Action Plan. Also has area for inhaled medicines, oral meds, and nasal sprays.
    [4.5/5]
  • Ease of Use:
    Setup I took over 5 minutes to set up the app, due to its customizability. However, this was just to enter 3 of my medications (my benchmark for this experiment), and I did not complete the Asthma Action Plan feature in this time.
    Tracking Finding the logging features can be a bit non-intuitive—why would I go to history to log a current peak flow?
    [I’ll give a half point each for this section]
  • Bonuses: Reminder alarms, no export.
    [1 point]
  • Updated: August 2, 2015
    [3 points]

Health Mapper | 13/20 {iOS only}

  • Cost: Free
  • Features: Peak flow logging, peak flow graph [only in correlation with 1 other item], medication logging, and trigger tracking. Some customization.
    [5 points]
  • Ease of Use:
    Setup Account required [minus half point]. Once I’d recovered my password, I cleared the app and re-set up my conditions, medications, triggers, and measurements [peak flow]. This took about 3 minutes.
    Tracking From a fresh open of the app, tracking takes about 2 minutes, and only one tap to get into your custom tracking menu.
    [1.5 points]
  • Bonuses: HealthKit sync; multiple conditions
    [1 point]
  • Updated: May 2015
    [3 points]

AsthmaSense | 10/20

    • Cost: Free
      Features: Peak flow logging, peak flow graph with medication records, medication logging, and trigger tracking. Some customization.
      [5 points]
    • Ease of Use:
      Setup Account required [minus half point]. Like HealthMapper, setup took 2-3 minutes after I was logged in. Though, the login option makes more sense given that AsthmaSense is in the cloud now, so I’ll give it 2 points here.
      Tracking Tracking with AsthmaSense is super quick. To add rescue medication, it is only 2 taps (1 to add and 1 to confirm, which I like); as needed meds are the same (ie. Benadryl, or how I take a sometimes-midday dose of Atrovent).[2 points]

NOTE: in terms of design, there’s this terrifying “Rescue” section with a Call 911 button right above the menu buttons. I feel like this is a disaster waiting to happen.

  • Bonuses: No external sync or export. Claims to be a cloud app but it only shares with itself.
    [0 points]
  • Updated: May 27, 2013 – this app could be a strong contender if it were updated to reflect current apps with sync available.
    [0 points]

Asthma Tracker | 12/20 {iOS only}

Asthma tracker is a beautiful app, and when I re-opened it, I wondered why I’d quit using it. Turns out, it’s only great if you take 1 controller medication plus one rescue medication. Which is good for many people, but not for me.

  • Cost:
  • Features: Peak flow logging, medication logging [max 1 rescue, 1 maintenance. -0.5 points].
    [1.5]
  • Ease of Use: App can be set up within 5 minutes, entries can be logged within 1 minute. And with a super appealing design.
    [2 points]
  • Bonuses: HealthKit sync. Creates a timeline to correlate symptoms with exercise [via step count], interesting/unique and non-medicaldesign.
    [3 points]
  • Updated: February 25, 2016
    [3 points]

This is an app I honestly wish I could have given more points to, as it is well on its way to being a fabulous app. But it’s not quite there yet. Thankfully, it’s still being updated.

AsthmaMD | 14.5/20 {iOS and Android}

  • Cost: Free
  • Features: Peak flow logging, peak flow graph, medication logging, and trigger tracking. Decent level of customization, though slightly confusing.
    [4 points]
  • Ease of Use: App can be set up within 5 minutes. Entries are logged quickly,
    [2 points]
  • Bonuses: FEV1 and O2 saturation logging optional, reminders, own system “cloud” [-0.5; no external app integration], [2.5 points]
  • Updated: January 20, 2016
    [3 points]

AsthmaMD is one of those apps that’s been around forever. I’m happy that it has been updated recently, as it’s likely already become a go-to for a lot of people with asthma.

Asthma Patient Companion | 12/20 {iOS only}
Might be easier to find on your app list if you know that it’s made by Point of Care.

  • Cost: Features: Peak flow logging, peak flow graph (additional graphs also!), medication logging. (This app does NOT support specific trigger tracking, which is unfortunate! There is a vague switch that says “Exposure to Allergens Today?” but that’s it.
    [3.5 points]
  • Ease of Use: App takes awhile to set up as it is not super intuitive. Each logging task takes probably 1-2 minutes as there are many options, but—for instance—a vague Asthma Control Test like report is included in “My Journal” and meds are in another section… Not really conducive to quick logging. There are a load of features though, so I’ll assign a half point.
    [0.5 point]
  • Bonuses: FEV1 logging (among other markers), reminders. Features unavailable in most apps: ability to track exacerbations, additional labs, injections (ie. Xolair), and side effects. No data export.
    [4 points]
  • Updated: March 27, 2015
    [1 point]
  • Medtep (/Medtep Asthma) | 10.5/20 {iOS and Android}
    While I was using Medtep Asthma, I eventually encountered a second app called simply Medtep. The app works roughly the same and synced my info from Medtep Asthma—be aware that both options exist!

    • Cost: Free [3 points]
    • Features: Peak flow logging, peak flow graph, rescue medication logging only (-0.5 point)
    • Ease of Use: Medtep Asthma is a bit buggy. I set up my account and it processed forever—I closed the app and restarted it. The same happened when I logged my first entry.
      [0.5]
      Medtep standard does not seem to have these same bugs. However, a separate module for the app must be installed to track meds, which seems a bit counterintuitive, and it did not install correctly.
      [0.5]
    • Bonuses: Fitness app sync, health challenges
      [2 points]
    • Updated: February 8, 2016 [standard], February 18, 2016 [Asthma]
      [3 points]

    While none of these apps scored a perfect 20/20 (I’ll admit, my criteria were pretty tough!), I think that this gives a pretty good overall picture of both the apps available, and the landscape of currently existing apps for asthma tracking.

    Have you tried any of the above apps to help manage your asthma? Which other apps have you tried and recommend? Let me know in the comments.

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