BACKGROUND: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common, costly, and incurable respiratory disease affecting 1.2 million people in the United Kingdom alone. Acute COPD exacerbations requiring hospitalization place significant demands on health services, and the incidence of COPD in poor, remote, and rural populations is up to twice that of cities.
OBJECTIVE: myCOPD is a commercial, digital health, self-management technology designed to improve COPD outcomes and mitigate demands on health services. In this pragmatic real-world feasibility study, we aimed to evaluate myCOPD use and its clinical effectiveness at reducing hospitalizations, inpatient bed days, and other National Health Service (NHS) resource use.
METHODS: myCOPD engagement and NHS resource use was monitored for up to 1 year after myCOPD activation and was compared against health service use in the year prior to activation. A total of 113 participants from predominantly remote and rural communities were recruited via community-based care settings, including scheduled home visits, outpatient appointments, pulmonary rehabilitation, and phone or group appointments. There were no predetermined age, disease severity, geographical, or socioeconomic inclusion or exclusion criteria.
RESULTS: Out of 113 participants, 89 activated myCOPD (78.8%), with 56% (50/89) of those participants doing so on the day of enrollment and 90% (80/89) doing so within 1 month. There was no correlation between participant enrollment, activation, or myCOPD engagement and either age, socioeconomics, rurality, or COPD severity. Most active participants used at least one myCOPD module and entered their symptom scores at least once (79/89, 89%). A subgroup (15/89, 17%) recorded their symptom scores very frequently (>1 time every 5 days), 14 of whom (93%) also used four or five myCOPD modules. Overall, there were no differences in hospital admissions, inpatient bed days, or other health service use before or after myCOPD activation, apart from a modest increase in home visits. Subgroup analysis did, however, identify a trend toward reduced inpatient bed days and hospital admissions for those participants with very high myCOPD usage.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that neither age, wealth, nor geographical location represent significant barriers to using myCOPD. This finding may help mitigate perceived risks of increased health inequalities associated with the use of digital health technologies as part of routine care provision. Despite high levels of activation, myCOPD did not reduce overall demands on health services, such as hospital admissions or inpatient bed days. Subgroup analysis did, however, suggest that very high myCOPD usage was associated with a moderate reduction in NHS resource use. Thus, although our study does not support implementation of myCOPD to reduce health service demands on a population-wide basis, our results do indicate that highly engaged patients may derive benefits.
- Digital self- management
- Remote and Rural
- Mobile Health
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Rural communities