The Black Country has a high prevalence of respiratory conditions in the population, so two digital innovations are being piloted that aim to help GPs standardise how people with lung conditions are identified and supported across the system.

The FeNo pilot will improve provision of asthma care by offering a highly specialised Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNo) testing device to every primary care network (PCN) within the system.

By testing a person’s breath, FeNo helps doctors to diagnose asthma more accurately in those suspected to have the condition, as well as to understand more about an individual’s condition including its severity and how/when it might get worse. The use of FeNo has been linked to improved patient outcomes, better condition management and prescribing (including reduced use of corticosteroids, which are an effective asthma treatment but can cause side-effects for some people), and a reduction in the number of people needing to be referred for hospital care.

The team is currently working with the clinical leads in each PCN to decide where the devices should be hosted, and once the programme is up and running the Black Country will be one of the foremost areas in the region for providing this type of asthma support.

Another pilot launched for 2023 is Lunghealth: a collaboration between the ICB and Glaxosmithkline (GSK) UK, which will centre on rolling out specialist consultation software that supports GPs to diagnose people who may have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), so they can get support to manage their condition at the earliest possible stage. As well as the software, there will be additional specialist nursing support to help practices review a percentage of their patient list and proactively identify those who may need further investigation.

GPs have been invited to submit their expressions of interest to take part in the pilot, which is expected to run until November. GSK's executive summary of the project can be read here.