Objective: We established a COPD taskforce for early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and intervention. We implemented a pilot intervention with a prospective and longitudinal design in a regional city. This study evaluates the usefulness of the COPD taskforce and intervention based on COPD case detection rate and per capita medical costs.
Method: We distributed a questionnaire to all 8,878 inhabitants aged 50-89 years, resident in Matsuura, Nagasaki Prefecture in 2006. Potentially COPD-positive persons received a pulmonary function test and diagnosis. We implemented ongoing detection, examination, education, and treatment interventions, performed follow-up examinations or respiratory lessons yearly, and supported the health maintenance of each patient. We compared COPD medical costs in Matsuura and in the rest of Nagasaki Prefecture using data from 2004 to 2013 recorded by the association of Nagasaki National Health Insurance Organization, assessing 10-year means and annual change.
Results: As of 2014, 256 people have received a definitive diagnosis of COPD; representing 31% of the estimated total number of COPD patients. Of the cases detected, 87.5% were mild or moderate in severity. COPD medical costs per patient in Matsuura were significantly lower than the rest of Nagasaki Prefecture, as was rate of increase in cost over time.
Conclusion: The COPD program in Matsuura enabled early detection and treatment of COPD patients and helped to lower the associated burden of medical costs. The success of this program suggests that a similar program could reduce the economic and human costs of COPD morbidity throughout Japan.
Keywords: case detection rate; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; longitudinal study; medical cost; systematic intervention.