Telehealth pulmonary rehabilitation: A review of the literature and an example of a nationwide initiative to improve the accessibility of pulmonary rehabilitation

Chron Respir Dis. 2018 Feb;15(1):41-47. doi: 10.1177/1479972317724570. Epub 2017 Aug 8.


Several different applications of telehealth technologies have been used in the care of respiratory patients, including telemonitoring, teleconsultations, tele-education, and telehealth-pulmonary rehabilitation (PR). Telehealth technology provides an opportunity to assist in the management of chronic respiratory diseases and improve access to PR programs. While there is inconclusive evidence as to the effectiveness of telemonitoring to reduce healthcare utilization and detection of exacerbations, teleconsultations have been shown to be an effective means to assess patients' disease prior to the initiation of PR, and telehealth PR has been shown to be as effective as institution-based PR at improving functional exercise capacity and health-related quality of life. To improve PR access across Canada and ensure a high standard of program quality, a team of clinicians and researchers has developed and begun to implement a national standardized PR program that can be delivered across different settings of practice, including remote satellite sites via telehealth PR. The program has adapted the "Living Well with COPD" self-management program and includes standardized reference guides and resources for patients and practitioners. A progressive and iterative process will evaluate the success of program implementation and outcomes. This initiative will address nationwide accessibility challenges and provide PR content as well as evaluations that are in accordance with clinical standards and established self-management practices.

Keywords: Pulmonary rehabilitation; accessibility; chronic disease management; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; telehealth.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / rehabilitation*
  • Telemedicine / methods
  • Telerehabilitation / methods*