Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes airflow blockage and other breathing issues.  Some 16 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the condition, but millions more are likely suffering from it, but have not been clinically diagnosed.  While no cure exists for it, COPD can be treated to allow patients to live more comfortably.  Considering that according to the American Lung Association, COPD is the third leading cause of death by disease in America, treatment of this chronic condition is critical.

Addressing Healthcare Challenges

There are ongoing challenges in the healthcare system, including access to care, geography, physician shortages, and more.  Connected health tools are already well-positioned to help alleviate some of these challenges with other conditions, and there is reason to believe it can help COPD patients as well.  In fact, studies have shown several potential positive impacts when connected health technologies have been used to treat COPD:

    • Improved patient outcomes or satisfaction
    • Reduced in-person visits
    • Better disease management
    • Better patient-physician relationships
    • Improved patient data
    • Patient empowerment and engagement
    • Predictability of aggravated conditions

Even studies that showed limited changes in outcomes over traditional care – either positive or negative – suggested Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) can drive cost savings.  Even in short-term engagements, cost savings of nearly $3k per patient have been reported, suggesting increased and longer-term use could drive significantly greater cost benefits without negatively impacting outcomes.

Improved Costs and Efficiency –

Connected health solutions, like Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) and telehealth, can help drive these kinds of improvements in care delivery, cost, and efficiency in several ways, while helping patients and physicians manage COPD.

Vital Signs

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) sensors can automatically transmit readings to EHRs, reducing the need for manual readings by physicians and staff, and reducing the need for office visits.  These data are easily reviewable by doctors at any time.

Virtual Consultation

Patients can communicate with physicians using video and/or voice to discuss conditions and treatment.  Vital signs can also be measured while in a video conference so physicians can discuss results in real-time.

Reminders

Physicians or patients can set reminders for specific activities, including telehealth visits, recording of vital signs, daily exercise, medication, or other activities that help patients better manage their conditions and stay on track with their treatment programs.

Medication Adherence

Digital inhaler monitoring can help physicians ensure patients are using their inhalers as needed – and are not using them too frequently, which could be a warning sign.

Alerts

When vital signs exceed established thresholds for a patient, or of a patient’s inhaler use is out of normal range, physicians can receive alerts allowing them to check data and consult with patients immediately, rather than waiting for conditions to worsen.

While studies around COPD treatment with telehealth services are still somewhat limited, they are beginning to suggest that, though outcomes may not always be better, they also don’t appear to degrade.  At the same time, improvements in patient satisfaction, cost, and efficiency are positive indicators that connected health solutions can help reduce the burden to both providers and patients and make it easier for patients to live better lives.

To learn more about how connected health programs are enhancing healthcare delivery, connect with us here.

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