Assessing inhaler technique and providing advice and support is an essential part of caring for a respiratory patient and controlling their condition. It is important patients are trained correctly on how to use their devices as correct inhaler technique is crucial for optimal drug delivery.
In an ideal world, to confirm that your patient can use their inhaler device(s) effectively you should assess their technique during a face to face consultation. However, this is not always possible, particularly in the current coronavirus pandemic.
Where it is not possible to do a face to face consultation the use of technology such as video consultations can support inhaler technique assessments and these act as a very valuable resource for this task. Using a remote video consultation platform, you can ask your patient to demonstrate their inhaler technique for you allowing you to assess and provide advice to optimise their technique.
Assessing a patient’s technique over the telephone is a challenge. However correct questioning of current inhaler usage, using open and closed questions to clarify correct technique and coach best practice where needed is essential particularly, if the only way to communicate with your patient is by using a telephone. Frequent clarifying and paraphrasing to ensure that the key messages have been understood are useful techniques to use in telephone consultations.
I have written a guide on How to Assess and Improve Inhaler technique virtually. This guide includes handy prompts and questions to ask patients which may help you determine if they are using their device correctly. The guide can be downloaded from the bottom of this article.
There are also a number of useful online resources which can support patients with correct inhaler technique. After any virtual consultation the patient should be directed to online resources and encouraged to view, such as the patient inhaler videos hosted on Asthma UK or on RightBreathe.
Permission was given by Dr Anna Murphy for GSK to publish this guide, and add inhalers that are commonly prescribed nationally but did not feature in the original document due to it being written based on local prescribing guidelines.