Use of a SmartPhone/Tablet-Based Bidirectional Telemedicine Disease Management Program Facilitates Early Detection and Treatment of COPD Exacerbation Symptoms

Smith Heidi S., Criner Andrew J., Fehrle Dolores, Grabianowski Carla L., Jacobs Michael R., and Criner Gerard J.. Telemedicine and e-Health. April 2016, 22(5): 395-399. doi:10.1089/tmj.2015.0135.

Introduction: Early treatment of worsening chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms speeds recovery, improves quality of life, and reduces the need for hospitalization. Patients may fail to recognize worsening symptoms leading to delays in treatment. A telemedicine application could facilitate detection and treatment of worsening symptoms. To work, such an application requires consistent use by patients and quick responses from healthcare providers. We conducted a quality assurance assessment of our system to see if we were meeting these goals. Materials and Methods: Thirty patients were provided a smartphone application for daily COPD symptom reporting. Reports between November 2012 and September 2013 were reviewed. Symptoms reports and interventions were time-stamped by the application. Adherence reporting was calculated as the number of reports made divided by the number of days enrolled in the program for each patient. Time to intervention was calculated as the time a report was submitted to the time a treatment recommendation was sent to the patient. Results: There were 4,434 symptom reports made over 5,178 patient-days of observation for an average reporting compliance of 85.6%. Median reporting compliance was 90.7% (interquartile range, 83.8–98%). Four hundred seventy-five symptom reports resulted in an alert. The average response time for all alerts was 6.64h, with a median response time of 5.75h. Conclusions: From this quality assessment we were able to conclude that patient adherence to the reporting system exceeded 90% for over half of the participants. Furthermore, over 50% of worsening COPD symptom reports were responded to in less than 6h with patient-specific treatment recommendations.

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