Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death globally, affecting 3.23 million deaths in 2019. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, patients with COPD are among the high-risk, vulnerable group since acquiring infections predisposes acute exacerbations of COPD. Can remote patient monitoring help reduce the burden of COPD?
What causes COPD?
According to WHO, COPD refers to airflow limitation in and out of the lungs. As a result, COPD can be sometimes called “emphysema” or “chronic bronchitis.” Emphysema usually refers to the destruction of the tiny air sacs at the end of the airways in the lungs. Chronic bronchitis refers to chronic cough with the production of phlegm resulting from inflammation in the airways.
Remote Patient Monitoring in COPD Patients
Transfer the accessibility
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) paves the way to transforming traditional care by providing health care access at home. Many studies prove the effectiveness of RPM in decreasing hospital readmissions, ER visits and even improving medication adherence. In a 2021 survey by MSI International, about four of every five consumers favor RPM, especially monitoring chronic diseases. In addition, almost half of the respondents want to see remote patient monitoring integrated with clinical care services. As a result, the number of patients implementing remote patient monitoring will increase to 30 million by 2024—marking a 28.2% growth from 23.4 million patients in 2020.
Enhance the predictability of exacerbations
Recent studies support the feasibility of remote patient monitoring in improving health-related quality of life and reducing COPD-related costs among patients with COPD. While further studies are still needed to emphasize RPM’s standardization and enhance the predictability of exacerbations, current evidence shows that spirometry, the use of short-acting inhalers, and a decrease in oxygen saturation are among the positive determinants of exacerbations assessed in remote monitoring.
Other ways to decrease COPD burden include the following:
1. Stop smoking
Quitting smoking is the most effective strategy for slowing down COPD progression. In a 2015 study, smoking cessation reduces mortality in approximately 50% of patients with diagnosed COPD who continue to smoke. In addition, the combination of advising patients through counseling and pharmacotherapy is more effective than either alone.
2. Take regular exercise
Exercise improves blood circulation and enables the heart to send oxygen to the body. According to American Lung Association, exercise can improve energy levels, sleep, cardiovascular fitness, and muscle strength. Exercise strengthens respiratory muscles, minimizing shortness of breath among COPD patients.
3. Get vaccinated against pneumonia, influenza, and coronavirus
The leading causes of COPD exacerbations are respiratory infections that have long-term harmful effects on patients’ lungs. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease should be given the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and influenza vaccines to decrease the risk of exacerbations. COVID-19 patients with COPD demonstrate the same increased chances of being hospitalized, requiring ICU admission, and mortality compared to COVID-19 patients who do not have COPD. Hence, encouraging patients to get vaccinated against coronavirus reduces the risk of infections.
Remote patient monitoring is feasible in reducing the COPD burden by preventing acute exacerbations and improving medication adherence. Future development should assess clinical outcomes for prolonged periods of continuous monitoring among wearable devices. In addition, by implementing an effective care model that combines remote patient monitoring with patient education, providers will help recognize barriers to healthcare and enhance communication, which may lead to earlier intervention and treatment.
- World Health Organization. (n.d.). Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-(copd)
- Savanta MSI. (2021, June 8). Remote Monitoring Study. https://www.msimsi.com/remote-monitoring-study/
- Dolan, S. (n.d.). The technology, devices, and benefits of remote patient monitoring in the healthcare industry. Insider Intelligence. https://www.insiderintelligence.com/insights/remote-patient-monitoring-industry-explained/
- COPD. AJMC. (n.d.). https://www.ajmc.com/compendium/copd
- Tomasic, I., Tomasic, N., Trobec, R., Krpan, M., & Kelava, T. (2018). Continuous remote monitoring of COPD patients—justification and explanation of the requirements and a survey of the available technologies. Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing, 56(4), 547–569. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11517-018-1798-z
- Tashkin, D. (2015). Smoking cessation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Seminars in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 36(04), 491–507. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0035-1555610