COPD treatment adherence improves with smartphone app use

Using a smartphone-based app for tracking symptoms daily can help patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease adhere to treatment in 90 percent of users, according to research published in Telemedicine and e-Health.

The ability to consistently and accurately track daily symptoms can lead to detection and treatment of worsening symptoms, according to the report's authors. In additon, fast response to such symptoms can avert hospital readmittance, boost recovery and improve quality of life for patients.

The study involved 30 patients using the app for just under a year. During the study period, users recorded respiratory symptoms, such as sputum, as well as wheezing, nasal congestion and coughing.

The ability to detect early potential complications allowed treatment providers to respond with needed treatment in less than six hours.

The research findings align with a study FierceMobileHealthcare recently reported on revealing that smartphone and real-time communications between home-based COPD patients and providers can boost treatment and help reduce hospital readmissions.

Engaging patients in disease treatment and management has repeatedly been reported as a big benefit gained via mHealth tools. A recent research article, published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, revealed that interactive mHealth technology can help spina bifida patients in medical treatment, as well as on a psychosocial level, as it can spur a patient's self-management skills.

The new COPD research effort allowed patients to log daily symptoms into a website using a desktop computer or laptop. A clinic nurse reviewed the daily symptom score chart, and while patients had the ability to contact caregivers, a majority waited to be contacted by a nurse who would offer up advice on how to manage symptoms.

"Early intervention is an underlying management principle for many diseases," the study's authors said, adding that "the overall timeliness of [treatment] response was substantially better than that reported in an interventional study, where it took 6-7 days after the onset of symptoms to start steroids, antibiotics, or both."

For more info:
- read the Telemedicine and e-Health study (.pdf)