How Microsoft's tool could help cystic fibrosis patients avoid hospitalizations

Microsoft in 2019 began Project Breathe, an effort to develop a smartphone-based tool that can help patients manage cystic fibrosis at home that has become an even more critical research project amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Project Breathe seeks to give cystic fibrosis patients more control over their health by allowing them to monitor their condition at home and avoid inconvenient and risky hospital visits. The tool tracks key health indicators such as blood oxygen levels, lung function and activity. With access to this data, patients can make health interventions earlier and possibly avoid serious infections.

The data collected by Project Breathe is stored in the cloud, and clinicians can access it using Microsoft’s data visualization platform, which helps them notice key trends in a patient's health and identify when they may become unwell.

The project was evaluating how well home monitoring worked for cystic fibrosis patients when the pandemic began, which brought an even greater need for these patients to avoid the hospital. Researchers are continuing to evaluate the model, which shows promise, so that cystic fibrosis patients can move toward a care model that reduces their reliance on in-person care.

"The impact of COVID-19 is that everybody’s been forced to use a completely remote model for an unknown length of time," Kirsty Hill, who led the team that developed Project Breathe's app, said in a Microsoft blog post. "And what became apparent immediately is that patients already enrolled in Project Breathe have a huge advantage in that doctors can have a data-informed discussion with them, whereas for everybody else, there was no data reference to discuss."


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