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With the accelerated use of digital health care amid the COVID-19 pandemic, investigators sought to provide evidence of its benefits for patients with COPD.
Results of a recent study demonstrated significant benefits of a new health care app that helps individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to manage their condition and facilitate recovery following hospitalization.1,2
COPD is among the leading causes of hospitalization in the United Kingdom, with upwards of 140,000 COPD-related admissions each year, the study authors wrote. Although COPD management strategies have improved, hospital readmission rates of patients with acute exacerbations have risen considerably in the last few years, and new prevention interventions remain crucial.1
Investigators asserted the benefits of COPD self-management programs, which have shown to reduce secondary care admissions and health care usage; the programs also point to economic benefits.1
Particularly in the era of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and decreased face-to-face health care consultations, the myCOPD app offers a valuable resource to patients. Investigators argued that, “the current evidence base around digital health interventions in chronic disease management is growing and there does appear to be the potential to improve health outcomes in a cost-effective and scalable manner.”
The study, published in NPJ Digital Medicine, divided 41 patients who were admitted to the hospital with severe exacerbations of COPD into 2 groups: 1 group received treatment as usual (TAU) and the other group were provided access to the myCOPD app in addition to their regular treatment.1,2
Participants had a mean age of 66.6 years. Thirty-four percent and 41% of patients had moderate and severe manifestations of COPD, respectively.1
Investigators reported good engagement from patients using the myCOPD app over the 3-month time frame. The number of days of app usage per week was 4.9, with no significant changes for the duration of the study. However, there was a continual decline in the number of users per week.
Patients in the myCOPD study arm experienced the greatest reduction in exacerbations, according to investigators. Data showed 4 (20%) hospital readmissions of any length in the myCOPD arm and 7 (33%) in the TAU arm.
The study authors addressed the limited clinical evidence from the study, as well as uncertainty in the use of apps in health care intervention and expressed the need for further research in high-risk patients recently discharged from acute care.
“Early signals of efficacy and improved health supporting skills offer promise that larger trials may pave the way to addressing an enormous unmet clinical need in COPD and for digital tools to join mandated imagingand evidence-based interventions such as influenza vaccination and home oxygen therapy,” the study authors wrote.