Is remote monitoring tough enough to tackle COPD?

The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and eResearchTechnology, Inc. (ERT) will launch a program to help patients suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The goal is to identify symptoms and concerns early and provide enhanced services to help the patients outside the physician's office and beyond the normal process of care, the organizations announced.

The twelve month study is specifically designed to test whether remote health monitoring is feasible in patients with moderate-severe COPD and if it improves treatment adherence, symptoms, activity level and quality of life.  They also want to see if the technology enables early detection of COPD exacerbations, facilitates early interventions and reduces health related expenditures.

The randomized study will test home-based spirometry, activity monitoring, adherence scoring and self-reported symptom monitoring. A web-based data tracking site will analyze patient data to look for trends in symptoms and concerns.    

In the UK, a recent remote patient monitoring and telehealth study did find success with patients who have chronic conditions. That study followed more than 6,000 diabetes, heart failure or COPD patients over three years. It found that remote monitoring reduced mortality rates by 45 percent. The study also showed interventions reduced emergency visits by 15 percent, emergency admissions by 20 percent, elective admissions by 14 percent and bed days by 14 percent.

And the market for such treatments is strong. There is a growing number of peripheral devices for monitoring patient data--from wearable biometric sensors to testing and diagnostic plug-ins. Chronic conditions are part of what's fueling that growth, according to British research firm Juniper Research.  

The most popular systems now are cardiac monitoring for outpatients, especially since U.S. insurers have begun paying for the service. In the future, however, monitoring for chronic conditions such as diabetes and COPD may become just as critical a market factor, researchers found.

To learn more:
- see the UCLA and ERC announcement