Researchers: Telehealth 'no holy grail' for COPD patients

Research has not shown a strong case for telemedicine as a means to improve quality of life for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a literature review published at the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

The researchers looked at 18 studies pertaining to use of telemedicine interventions for patients with the disease. They found that the technology "is no holy grail." British researchers came to the same conclusion after studying 1,500 patients suffering from COPD, diabetes or heart failure.

The 18 studies were characterized as those that provided similar services remotely to those delivered in person, such as pulmonary rehabilitation and hospital ward rounds delivered via video link; or an active intervention, such as coping skills training or COPD education by phone or computer; and those that represented a passive intervention, such as vital signs and symptoms monitoring. These interventions were compared to standard care in the control groups.

Out of the 18 studies reviewed, three studies found statistically significant improvements for patients who underwent telemedical interventions. However, all of the other studies found no statistically significant differences between control and telemedicine intervention groups in quality of life.

One study divided quality of life measures into psychological and somatic categories. It found more improvement in psychological measures than in somatic ones.

Using hospital readmission as the measured outcome, however, University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have touted success with a mobile device-based rehabilitation program for patients suffering from severe pulmonary disease.

To learn more:
- here's the study