Earlier this month, Paris-based Hephaï filed a patent application covering the software technology used in its digital educational tool, which was designed to optimise inhaler use.

The patent – the first filed by Hephaï – aims to protect its digital platform, designed to assist patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in gaining better control of their disease. Approved as a Class 1 medical device, the digital tool is an App that can be installed on PCs, tablets and smartphones.

How does it work?

Through the App, the inhaler user simply records themselves while using the inhaler, while the App simultaneously analyses their movements and sounds to assess in real time any mistakes the patient may have made, before offering suggestions to improve their technique.

Once approved, the patent will cover the software that analyses the patient’s movements, provides the patient with a description of the technique and confirms how the patient has used the inhaler, via a virtual coach.

The patent is pending approval in France after only one year of R&D. Dr. Valéry Trosini-Desert, founder of Hephaï and pulmonologist at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, explains that this is a first for a digital platform of this type in pulmonology. Dr. Trosini-Desert went on to highlight the success of this innovative solution by mentioning Hephaï’s recent partnership with Chiesi, an international pharmaceutical company, with whom the company is collaborating to fully develop the platform, proving that there is a great deal of interest in this technology among patients and healthcare professionals.

In terms of expansion, Hephaï has recently recruited two data scientists – one of whom was involved in filing the patent – who are continuously developing the AI that drives the tool.

The solution will benefit asthma and COPD sufferers who are treated with medications taken via inhalers. 

Typically, patients need to use their inhalers regularly to take their medication correctly, but misuse is common: an estimated 30-40% of COPD patients do not use their inhalers correctly. This can have a direct impact on how they take the medication, resulting in reduced health benefits.

In addition, consultations with pulmonologists and general practitioners are often brief, leaving insufficient time to monitor the use of the medication prescribed by the inhaler, or to provide a full explanation to patients on how to use their inhaler. This is also the case in pharmacies and, as a result of this lack of training and professional guidance, many people do not learn the correct techniques to use their inhaler effectively. This is where Hephaï comes in with an educational solution that provides step-by-step instructions to ensure correct use and therefore optimal patient outcomes. 

Hephaï’s AI has been developed to be able to assess whether the inhaler treatment has been taken correctly through motion and sound analysis. It can then identify potential errors before establishing a corrective process or informing the patient’s medical practitioner. The App can be recommended by the prescribing doctor or pharmacist, and will be available for free download via Apple and Android devices in 2022.