Wildfire season this year has arrived in the middle of a global respiratory health-linked pandemic, meaning it will be more important than ever to protect vulnerable groups from harmful smoke inhalation.
Impact of Smoke Inhalation During Wildfire Season
Smoke inhalation isn’t healthy for any of us but short-term exposure for certain vulnerable patients can be particularly severe.
The EPA lists the symptoms of short-term smoke exposure (over a few days) as wide-ranging: The list include respiratory symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing, to more serious respiratory and cardiovascular effects, like asthma exacerbation and aggravation of lung diseases, heart failure, stroke and, even premature death.
Protecting Patients During Wildfire Season
We explain how air quality insights can be used to assist vulnerable patients during wildfire season below:
1. Act on & Prepare for Poor Air Quality Caused by Wildfires
As BreezoMeter's capture of this month's Apple Fire in California shows, wildfire smoke travels far and wide extremely rapidly. This means individuals can be at risk, even if they are far from the original fire:
Apple Fire in California (Aug 2020)
BreezoMeter provides an accurate picture of air quality for any location, meaning patients can keep tabs on the reality of their specific situation (even while on the move!) and take measures to protect their health from declining air quality early on. This might involve leaving the area early, closing windows, and activating air purifiers.
2. Person-Specific Insights for Personalized Care
By integrating wildfire and air quality intelligence into connected health solutions like patient apps, healthcare providers can correlate their patient’s symptoms with actual environmental exposure.
For patients suffering from chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and COPD in particular, this additional environmental context helps providers to refine the care and treatment they give, based on patient-specific information and objective insights.
3. Insights & Recommendations when Face to Face Contact is Difficult
When combined with remote symptom monitoring, personalized air quality monitoring and health recommendations provide a helpful treatment option when face to face contact is difficult or impossible - like during a wildfire crisis.
Unlike many providers, BreezoMeter’s air quality insights are delivered with tailored health recommendations, based on demographic factors such as pregnancy, heart disease, age, lung disease and more:
As an example, the UK based digital health company My mhealth integrates BreezoMeter’s air quality insights to support their remote patient monitoring apps - myCOPD & myHeart.
4. Patients in Wildfire-prone Areas Learn the True Impact of Smoke Exposure
Like the majority of consumers, patients respond best to healthcare treatments and information that feel personalized. A growing body of research has found a connection between patient involvement in their own care and better health outcomes at lower costs.
By helping patients understand the true health impact of smoke inhalation and poor air quality exposure for their health, they become more aware of their personal risk factors and learn to modify their behavior in positive ways.
5. Correlation of Symptoms with Smoke Exposure Helps Drive Clinical Research
In addition to helping individuals manage exposure to wildfire smoke, accurate air quality insights in this context can double up as a powerful data input for clinical research.
As wildfire seasons become longer, more scientists are looking to understand the health risks associated with wildfire smoke inhalation compared to other forms of air pollution.
One study examined hospitalizations of Medicare patients 65 years or older on days with high PM2.5 exposure levels - they found 6.9% more hospitalizations due to asthma, wheezing and bronchitis compared to clear days!
In the future, these kinds of insights will help to power progression from one-size-fits all treatment solutions to group targeted therapies based on evidence connected to age, disease type, disease stage and more, helping to reduce avoidable hospitalizations.
eBook: Improving Patient Engagement with Environmental Insights
Our latest eBook goes into the use cases of a number of BreezoMeter's healthcare partners in detail - featuring LifeMap, ALK, my mHealth & more: