Digitalizing multidisciplinary pulmonary rehabilitation in COPD with a smartphone application: an international observational pilot study

Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2018 Nov 23:13:3831-3836. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S182880. eCollection 2018.


Background: Concerning COPD, pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) has a positive effect on disease progression and mortality, is cost-effective, and is a part of recommendations of international guidelines. Only a minority of patients profit from conventional PR due to a lack of resources, physicians' guideline adherence, or patients' motivation. Novel digital therapies like Kaia COPD, a smartphone application that digitizes PR in COPD, are promising solutions to fill this void.

Methods: Kaia COPD provides a digital version of PR and is certified as a class-I medical device in the European Union. We investigated anonymized data from users of the Kaia COPD app on in-app retention and the change in health-related quality of life (COPD assessment test and Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire [CRQ]) during a period of 20 exercise days with the app.

Results: Of 349 app downloads, 56 users fulfilled inclusion criteria and 34 (61%) had finished day 20 at the time of analysis and were included. Users took 33±11 days to complete the 20-day core program. Users finishing the program reduced their COPD assessment test scores (mean 2.5 units from 21.6±7.7 to 19.1±8.4 units, P=0.008). In finishers, there was a statistically significant effect above the minimum clinically important threshold of the CRQ score on the domains of fatigue, mastery, and emotional function. There was a statistically significant but not clinically relevant effect on the domain of dyspnea of CRQ.

Conclusion: Digitalizing PR with a smartphone app is feasible and accepted by selected patients. The app leads to short-term improvement of health-related quality of life in patients completing a 20-day core program. Due to its observational character, this study has several methodological limitations and was intended to show the feasibility and to extrapolate effect sizes for planned prospective randomized-controlled trials to confirm these findings.

Keywords: COPD; pulmonary rehabilitation; telehealth care; telerehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Europe
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / psychology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / rehabilitation*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Self Care
  • Smartphone*
  • Telerehabilitation / instrumentation*
  • Telerehabilitation / methods
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome