September 4, 2023
Written by

The VitalFlo Team

How does Spirometry help with Medication Adherence and Inhaler Technique?

Spirometry is a diagnostic test used to assess lung function by measuring the volume and flow of air during breathing. While spirometry itself does not directly address medication adherence or inhaler technique, it can provide valuable information that can aid in evaluating and improving these aspects of respiratory care:

Baseline Assessment: Spirometry can establish a patient's lung function before starting medication or inhaler therapy. This baseline measurement helps healthcare providers determine the appropriate medication dosage and monitor changes in lung function over time.

Quick tip: most spirometry reports are in ATS/ERS-compliant PDF formats. This is great for visualizing an individual spirometry report, however it can be challenging to monitor patient progress over time when this is the only format available. VitalFlo offers trends-over-time visualizations for every patient, making it simple to compare a patient to themselves over time and monitor progress.

Brochodilator Responsiveness Testing: A common diagnostic tool, bronchodilator responsiveness testing (sometimes referred to as "pre-/post-brochodilator testing"), in which spirometry is performed both before and after the administration of a bronchodilator drug (e.g., β2-agonist) to assess the impact of the drug. This test can also be helpful for the provider to observe and correct the patient's inhaler technique, and to show the patient the positive impact of good technique with the spirometry results.

Quick tip: many, but not all, spirometry platforms help with the assessment and reporting of bronchodilator responsiveness testing. When considering spirometry platforms, make sure to review whether this is an included feature.

Monitoring Progress: Regular spirometry tests can track a patient's lung function and assess the effectiveness of medication therapy. By comparing current spirometry results with previous measurements, healthcare providers can evaluate treatment outcomes and adjust medication or inhaler technique accordingly.

Quick tip: with some home respiratory monitoring platforms, like VitalFlo, it is possible to track both spirometry and medication adherence over time: even visualizing them on the same trend line. With automated alerts, it is possible to proactively monitor patients and help make adjustments pre-emptively.

Inhaler Technique Assessment: Spirometry can be combined with assessment of inhaler technique to ensure patients are using their inhalers correctly. Improper inhaler technique can lead to reduced medication delivery to the lungs, compromising treatment effectiveness. Spirometry can measure lung function before and after inhaler use, helping to identify if the medication is reaching the lungs adequately.

Quick tip: especially with home monitoring platforms, including both medication adherence data and spirometry can be a powerful way to judge the success of the patient's prescribed therapy. Spirometry can show if a patient is not responding to therapy, and offer clues about whether additional technique education, a different prescription, or a new medication dosage are warranted.

Education and Training: Spirometry results can be used as visual aids to educate patients about their lung health and the importance of medication adherence and proper inhaler technique. Demonstrating the impact of medication on lung function through spirometry can motivate patients to adhere to their prescribed treatment plans.

Quick tip: with comprehensive home monitoring programs, be sure to evaluate if patient education and training tools are available within the platform, or how easily they can be added and customized.

Identifying Non-Adherence: Spirometry can sometimes reveal poor treatment adherence. If spirometry results indicate worsening lung function despite appropriate medication therapy, it may suggest that the patient is not using the medication as prescribed. This can prompt healthcare providers to inquire about adherence issues and offer support to improve compliance.

Quick tip: in cases where patients are non-adherent to medication, it is important to consider if a different delivery mechanism may make adherence easier (e.g., a nebulizer or alternative device).

It's important to note that while spirometry is a useful tool, addressing medication adherence and inhaler technique requires a comprehensive approach. Healthcare providers should combine spirometry assessment with patient education, counseling, and regular follow-ups to ensure optimal treatment outcomes.

Written by

The VitalFlo Team