Digital Application Allows COPD Patients to Get Same-Day Treatment

Patients who received immediate treatment recommendations saw improved symptom control.

Patients who received immediate treatment recommendations saw improved symptom control.

Many patients with chronic symptoms will resort to WebMD for possible solutions to their ailments.

But what if you could use an application to connect you with a treating physician that would prescribe treatment on the same day symptoms occurred? Patients reporting symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) experienced just that in a new study conducted by Temple University in Pennsylvania.

COPD is a serious condition that involves such symptoms as coughing, mucus, shortness of breath, wheezing, and a feeling of tightness in the chest. If these symptoms are not attended to in a timely manner, the condition can escalate and lead to hospitalization, disability, and a diminished quality of life.

The Temple University study led by Gerard J. Criner, MD, FACP, FACCP, revealed that COPD patients using a digital health application to report their daily symptoms for same-day treatment recommendations from their health care provider experienced fewer and less severe COPD exacerbation symptoms. This caused an improvement in daily symptom control, lung function, and activity status.

The digital health application allows COPD patients to report their symptoms and then measures the severity of their symptoms using a computer algorithm. Scores in excess of a predetermined threshold were reviewed by a nurse and referred to a physician who prescribed treatment.

The application allowed physicians to optimize treatment plans based on patient-specific symptoms on the same day symptoms occurred.

“Previous studies at other sites have questioned the efficacy of various telemedicine solutions in COPD patients, but those studies have not used a solution that enables same-day treatment in response to worsening patient symptoms,” said Dr. Criner, who served as the principal investigator of the study. “We have been studying digital health solutions for COPD symptom management for over a decade and are pleased that the improvements we have seen in our patients in response to early identification and intervention has been documented in this clinical study.”

The study also revealed an encouraging degree of reporting compliance by COPD patients with moderate-to-severe conditions as evidenced by the high rate of daily reporting of symptoms. While the study did not meet the minimum number of patients required to assess either a mortality benefit or reduction in hospitalization days prior to the end of study funding, results were in the predicted direction.

“Future studies are needed with greater numbers of patients enrolled to be able to address that outcome, and additional research is already underway with that aim,” said lead author Francis Cordova, MD, Medical Director of the Lung Transplantation Program at Temple University Hospital.

As further research is conducted, it seems that digital telemedicine solutions will be the wave of the future for patients with chronic, continuous symptoms. This will allow patients to be in constant contact with their physicians and get the treatment they need at the exact moment they need it.

“The clinical research being conducted at Temple continues to reveal the ability of telemedicine and digital solutions to provide meaningful, measurable results for COPD symptom management,” said Michael J. Markus, PhD, CEO of HGE Health Care Solutions.