World COPD Day 2022 – Your Lungs for Life
Today is World COPD Day, and the theme of this year’s campaign is to highlight the importance of lifelong lung health. We are born with only one set of lungs and keeping our lungs healthy is an integral part of future health and well-being and so this year the focus on World COPD day is on what we can do to promote lifelong lung health.
Recent research indicates that COPD results from a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors that occur over a lifetime. Smoking-cessation, and tackling both indoor and outdoor air pollution are important initiatives to reduce the risk of developing COPD.
But how do we promote lung health in individuals who already have a diagnosis of COPD? It is generally well accepted that self-management can improve disease control and health-related quality of life and reduce unscheduled care visits in COPD. It is also understood that self-care works best when it is supported – this may mean the involvement of healthcare professionals, family, friends or patient support group peers. But there is also growing evidence for the role of technology to support management of COPD.
Only last week researchers from the Portsmouth Technology Trials Unit at Portsmouth Hospitals in the UK published an evaluation of telehealth support in an integrated respiratory clinic in the journal Nature journal npj Primary Care Respiratory Medicine.
In this particular telehealth study participants with poorly controlled asthma or COPD received automated telephone calls, whereby responses could trigger alerts to the specialist respiratory team. A specialist respiratory nurse could then provide telephone advice where required, and any further concerns escalated to a duty respiratory physician for review. After 6 months, there was a greater reduction in median exacerbation rate, unscheduled GP visits and cost of care across both asthma and COPD telehealth groups compared to control groups. The authors concluded the addition of telehealth support to exacerbation-prone patients with asthma or COPD proved beneficial in reducing exacerbation frequency and unscheduled healthcare visits, and led to significant cost-savings for the NHS.
At patientMpower supporting patients to better manage their own conditions is a key focus of our work. Similarly to the telehealth intervention discussed above, the patientMpower app can alert a patients’ care team to potentially concerning results. Our specific solution triggers alerts from patient-recorded measurements, using thresholds that can be tailored to each individual patient. But the patientMpower platform goes beyond home monitoring of objective measures. Functions like activity tracking, symptom diaries, medication adherence reminders and air quality indicators are all designed to promote self-care.
A clinical trial examining the use of the patientMpower platform to enable a community virtual ward model of care for uncontrolled asthma and COPD has already demonstrated improvements in patients’ health status, with a reduction in the need for hospital admission. Further studies in COPD are ongoing – independent researchers at Tallaght University Hospital are conducting a clinical trial on the use of an app-enabled self-management programme (via the patientMpower app) on clinical health outcomes in patients with COPD.
Our vision for the future is that everyone with a long term respiratory condition can lead a life not defined by illness. For more information on how technology can support self-care and home-based care of COPD get in touch with us at info@patientMpower.com