mAPPing the new world of allergy

EAACI evaluates the potential of mHealth developments

The European Academy for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) Annual Congress presented new avenues for controlling allergic rhinitis and asthma by mHealth technology. The role of mHealth in monitoring and predicting curative treatment of allergic disease by allergen immunotherapy was also highlighted.

We live in an increasingly digitalized world, where mobile phone numbers have outgrown the global population, and a myriad of mobile applications assist us in every aspect of our daily life. The field of allergy will be impacted by the advent of mobile health technology, which provides unprecedented avenues for allergists and their patients to communicate, and presents a real revolution in epidemiology, care, and research.

Patient diaries and digital questionnaires allow monitoring of disease severity and its effect on quality of life over time, empower patients to self-control the disease, and provide valuable longitudinal data for doctors into the course of the disease and the effect of treatment. These tools may also include playful information for children, recommendations on management, videos and patient stories.

The opportunities for all allergic diseases are vast and just a few clicks away: from Apps such as the Mobile Airways Sentinel Network that uses a visual analogue scale for nose, eye and asthma symptoms to link allergy to work impairment; pollen diaries that compare different seasons and aerobiological particles to track down a possible pollen allergy or forecast worsening of pollen allergy symptoms; telemonitoring, integrated care pathways and clinical support systems used as potential tools to aid decision-making for Allergen Immunotherapy; to those that measure the impact of allergic diseases on sleep quality, provide medication reminders; or support affected patients in the selection of food allergen-free products.

“Apps are instantly helpful – which is what someone with a severe allergy needs. Sadly, we have seen that people can’t always rely on restaurants and cafes to keep them safe, so an App puts the control back into the hands of the patient,” says Leah Ryz, 38, Hove UK, who uses a mobile App to scan gluten free foods.

But as new technologies appear on the market daily, so does the need for quality control and regulation, as underlined by the World Health Organization, the EU, National Governments and medical associations. Apps must respect recent rules established at European level and their future upgrade, in addition to country-specific ones.

In this light, EAACI has acknowledged the potential of mobile technologies and contributes to its development proactively through the creation of a Task Force on “mHealth and allergy” under a two-year action plan (2018-2020).

“It will be very important to regulate this growing area and rapidly discriminate the good from the bad services. Not everything that is new will be automatically efficient and reliable. EAACI will play a role and help Public Health Systems and allergists in guiding and governing this process,” says Paolo Matricardi, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin and member of the EAACI mHealth task force.

About EAACI:

The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) is an association of clinicians, researchers and allied health professionals founded in 1956. EAACI is dedicated to improving the health of people affected by allergic diseases. With more 11,000 members from 121 countries and over 75 National Allergy Societies, EAACI is the primary source of expertise in Europe for all aspects of allergy.