Technology has the power to link physicians and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients to accelerate collection of valuable information and improve patient care.
Smartphone applications are now available to empower COPD patients to better monitor and manage their condition, allowing a clinical care team to track patients in real time and respond immediately. A smartphone can be used to track daily symptoms and detect exacerbations early on, with symptom changes, missed diary transmissions or medical care for a respiratory problem triggering alerts to clinicians at the time of suspected COPD exacerbations.
Web-based applications can facilitate patient access to information and subsequently lead to appropriate interactions with clinicians, Valentin Prieto-Centurion, MD, instructor of medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago, recently told Medical Economics.
Web-based COPD self-management applications can be integrated into the primary care disease-management process. These remote healthcare technologies have been shown to reduce the number of emergency admissions to hospitals in patients with long-term conditions, including COPD, he said.
Perhaps the easiest way for primary-care physicians to employ technology is to track their COPD patients’ physical activity with a pedometer. “COPD patients who limit physical activity have worse outcomes, more hospitalization and worse mortality. Physicians can collect information from pedometers and, based on a patient’s physical activity, provide feedback to help the patient overcome barriers in day-to-day life,” said Prieto-Centurion.