When it comes to health, it’s hard to overstate the importance of clean air. Air pollution is one of the biggest health emergencies of our time: it is to blame for 1 in 8 deaths worldwide and is one of the leading causes of heart disease, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and more. Pharma & healthcare brands can use air quality data and air pollution data in their drug research and patient programs to improve research, clinical trials, and their patient care.
Here are some further examples of just how dangerous air pollution is to our health:
Image source: the World Health Organization, Breathelife2030.org
Understanding the effect that air pollution has on these diseases, and conditions like asthma and pollen sensitivities have been a priority of healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies for quite some time. Thankfully, the rise of big data, machine learning, and other modern technologies have helped make major breakthroughs in our understanding of air quality across the world.
We think this has created two key opportunities for healthcare and pharmaceutical brands: improve the medicine development process with increasingly accurate air quality data, and empower sensitive populations with actionable, real-time data on the air around them.
First Opportunity: Including Air Quality Data in Pharma Research & Clinical Trials
During the research and trials phases of medication development, pharma and drug companies often need comprehensive and precise environmental data. Every clinical trial requires huge amounts of data in order to understand what factors are affecting the impact that a specific treatment might have, and researchers are now able to rely on real-time, hyperlocal air quality data to do so.
For example, pharmaceutical companies use connected or “smart” inhalers to gather relevant data on asthma attacks, and have started incorporating wearables and mobile apps to collect many layers of useful, actionable data. In order to ensure their clinical trials are accurate and effective, and due to the proven correlation between air pollution and health, pharma companies are also taking into account air quality throughout the research and development phase.
Some organizations use government air quality data, which is a vital source of information. But, as we explain in another post, it can be limited to some specific use cases. This includes healthcare, as data needs to be relevant to the patients: real-time, hyperlocal and location-based.
Innovative drug companies and medical institutes are now starting to integrate BreezoMeter’s air quality data: The Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai and LifeMap used it in their research study around asthma, combining hyperlocal, accurate air quality data from BreezoMeter and patients’ health conditions to try and understand the correlation between air pollution and asthma attacks. More leading pharmaceutical companies are following the same path, either testing our air quality during preliminary research, or getting ready to use it for their clinical trials.
Second Opportunity: Providing Patients with Real-time air Pollution Data
Another big opportunity for pharmaceutical brands is to help their patients get better, more actionable air quality data so they can lead healthier lives. Everyone, especially those who are sensitive to certain allergens and pollutants, deserves to know the air they breathe and understand the impact it can have on their health, treatment, and progress. Providing this personalized data can make a huge difference in health and quality of life. It might also help improve medication performance as well because patients have a better understanding of their condition and are able to avoid unnecessarily worsening their health.
Here’s an example: Through the partnership with BreezoMeter, LifeMap Solutions and The Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai also provided air quality data (AQI, dominant pollutant, pollution heatmap) for their Asthma Health app, a product that helps patients track their asthma symptoms and avoid situations that may trigger attacks. Over 8,600 participants used the app to better manage their asthma and improve their health, a clear sign that real-time air quality data can play an important role in patient’s well-being, and more medication providers are getting involved in this space as well.
These approaches are innovative and are making a positive impact on our everyday lives. However, we think that they’re just the beginning: healthcare providers and pharmaceutical brands have access to our air quality API, which empowers them to create products that improve human health across the world.
Want to learn more about the different ways air quality data can be used for health & wellness?