Background: Acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOP) are key events in the natural history of the disease. Patients with more AECOPD have worse prognosis. There is a need of innovative models of care for patients with severe COPD and frequent AECOPD, and Telehealth (TH) is part of these programs.
Methods: In a cluster assignment, controlled trial study design, we recruited 60 patients, 30 in home telehealth (HT) and 30 in conventional care (CC). All participants had a prior diagnosis of COPD with a post-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume (FEV1)% predicted <50%, age ≥ 50 years, were on long-term home oxygen therapy, and non-smokers. Patients in the HT group measured their vital signs on a daily bases, and data were transmitted automatically to a Clinical Monitoring Center for followed-up, and who escalated clinical alerts to a Pneumologist.
Results: After 7-month of monitoring and follow-up, there was a significant reduction in ER visits (20 in HT vs. 57 in CC), hospitalizations (12 vs. 33), length of hospital stay in (105 vs. 276 days), and even need for non-invasive mechanical ventilation (0 vs. 8), all p < 0.05. Time to the first severe AECOPD increased from 77 days in CC to 141 days in HT (K-M p < 0.05). There was no study withdrawals associated with technology. All patients showed a high level of satisfaction with the HT program.
Conclusions: We conclude that HT in elderly, severe COPD patients with multiple comorbidities is safe and efficacious in reducing healthcare resources utilization.
Keywords: COPD; Comorbidities; Elderly; Hospitalizations; Telehealth; Telemedicine.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.