The management of asthma and COPD is largely dependent on patients being able to use their inhaled medication correctly, but poor inhaler technique continues to be a recurring theme in studies and clinical practice. This is associated with poor disease control, increased risk of exacerbations and hospital admissions, and so there is a need to redesign services for patients to optimise their medicines use.
A novel ward-based dedicated inhaler technique service was developed, and pharmacy support workers trained to provide this, focusing on optimising inhaler technique using a checklist and recommending protocol-guided inhaler device switches. Inpatients on adult respiratory wards with a diagnosis of exacerbation of asthma or COPD consented to receive this service, and the impact on exacerbations and hospital admissions were compared in the 6-months before and after the intervention.
266 adults (74 asthma, 188 COPD, and four asthma-COPD overlap) received the inhaler technique service. Six-month exacerbation and hospital admission data were available for 184 subjects. Optimising inhaler technique achieved a significant reduction in the combined asthma and COPD annualised rate of moderate-to-severe exacerbations (Rate Ratio [RR] 0.75, p < 0.05) and annualised rate of hospital admissions (RR 0.57, p < 0.0005). Improvements were also observed in future length of stay (- 1.6 days) and the average cost of admission (-£748).
This novel inhaler technique service produced a significant reduction in the rate of moderate-to-severe exacerbations of asthma and COPD, and a reduction in the rate hospital admissions, length of stay and average cost of admission.

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