Home Testing of Lung Function with a Smartphone

Home Testing System Approved by FDA

Background: It would be helpful to those with asthma or COPD to monitor their lung function by doing breathing tests in their home. Then, the results could be sent electronically to a health coach or to the office of their health care provider. This information could be used along with the person’s symptoms, such as shortness of breath, to evaluate any changes. New Home Testing System: The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved Wing, an app-connected spirometer from St. Louis, Missouri-based Sparo Labs (see image below). Wing is a “pocket-sized device that will help individuals know how well their lungs are functioning” at home. It connects to a smartphone and is smaller, easier to use, and less expensive than other testing systems typically used in a medical office or hospital.
Sparo testing system using iPhone

Sparo testing system using iPhone

  The FDA has cleared the device so it can purchased over-the-counter without a prescription. This means that the company can market it directly to consumers. The press release did not state how much the Wing system will cost.
Woman performing breathing test.

Woman performing breathing test.

My Comments: This device will measure how much air that you can exhale [called forced vital capacity (FVC)] and how much air you can exhale in one second [called forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1)].  These results provide more useful information than simply measuring peak expiratory flow. Peak flow meters for use at home have been available for decades. I have no financial interest in Sparo Labs.  

Donald A. Mahler, M.D. is Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire. He works as a pulmonary physician at Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, NH, where he is Director of Respiratory Services.