COPD patients could benefit from mHealth, study indicates

Around the world, more than 600 million people are estimated to be affected by COPD, with four million in Germany and 16 million in the US.
By Anna Engberg
06:33 AM

A Chinese research group has compared six international COPD studies and found that the use of health tips improved the self-management of COPD patients measurably - and has the potential to reduce the number of hospital admissions. 

The six studies from China, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, all published by 2017, were selected from over 4,000 and examined against four criteria, including the number of hospital admissions and the monitoring of self-management of COPD patients via telemonitoring over a period of at least a month.

WHAT HAPPENED

Only studies comparing patients with clinical COPD diagnosis and access to therapeutic mHealth applications for patients with standard care without mHealth intervention were considered.

The mHealth applications were installed on the smartphones of the affected COPD patients to assist them in recording and monitoring their vital data, such as oxygen saturation and pulse rate, blood pressure, and general health behaviours regarding physical activity, nutrition, and medication.

While the comparison groups were treated without mHealth interventions, participants of the corresponding studies received personalised feedback via data upload to the telemedical monitoring systems of the health service providers with the aim of guiding them towards self-monitoring and a healthier lifestyle. In three of the studies, patients received tailor-made coaching on corresponding activities via the smartphone app.

WHY IT MATTERS

Based on the hospital admissions in the 3-, 6- and 12-month periods following the interventions, the researchers were able to determine a significantly reduced risk for hospital admission in patients who used a mobile health app - compared to the conventionally treated control group - within the framework of the meta-analysis. The average duration of hospital stays in the two groups did not vary.

The meta-analysis of the review on the effectiveness of health recommendations suggests that COPD therapy based on mobile health recommendations can improve the activity level and self-management of patients and thus reduce the number of hospital admissions. The corresponding smartphone apps were evaluated by patients with COPD as easy to learn and use compared to conventional interventions, according to the summary of the study.

The researchers concluded that the willingness to participate and change behaviour is more pronounced in mHealth applications on one's own smartphone than in other electronic devices. They attributed this to the fact that patients perceived the continuity of treatment more clearly when they sent their data digitally to the treating researchers.

Further information can be found here.

Anna Engberg is a Wiesbaden-based freelance journalist specialising in health and technology.