Home Monitoring of Asthma Exacerbations in Children and Adults With Use of an AI-Aided Stethoscope

Ann Fam Med. 2023 Nov-Dec;21(6):517-525. doi: 10.1370/afm.3039.


Purpose: The advent of new medical devices allows patients with asthma to self-monitor at home, providing a more complete picture of their disease than occasional in-person clinic visits. This raises a pertinent question: which devices and parameters perform best in exacerbation detection?

Methods: A total of 149 patients with asthma (90 children, 59 adults) participated in a 6-month observational study. Participants (or parents) regularly (daily for the first 2 weeks and weekly for the next 5.5 months, with increased frequency during exacerbations) performed self-examinations using 3 devices: an artificial intelligence (AI)-aided home stethoscope (providing wheezes, rhonchi, and coarse and fine crackles intensity; respiratory and heart rate; and inspiration-to-expiration ratio), a peripheral capillary oxygen saturation (SpO2) meter, and a peak expiratory flow (PEF) meter and filled out a health state survey. The resulting 6,029 examinations were evaluated by physicians for the presence of exacerbations. For each registered parameter, a machine learning model was trained, and the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) was calculated to assess its utility in exacerbation detection.

Results: The best single-parameter discriminators of exacerbations were wheezes intensity for young children (AUC 84% [95% CI, 82%-85%]), rhonchi intensity for older children (AUC 81% [95% CI, 79%-84%]), and survey answers for adults (AUC 92% [95% CI, 89%-95%]). The greatest efficacy (in terms of AUC) was observed for a combination of several parameters.

Conclusions: The AI-aided home stethoscope provides reliable information on asthma exacerbations. The parameters provided are effective for children, especially those younger than 5 years of age. The introduction of this tool to the health care system might enhance asthma exacerbation detection substantially and make remote monitoring of patients easier.

Keywords: AI-aided medical device; asthma exacerbation; asthma monitoring; childhood asthma; home health care.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Asthma* / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • Stethoscopes*