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Fewer COPD exacerbations by jointly efforts hospital, first-line and eHealth

Thanks to the efforts of various health professionals and the eHealth tool EmmaCOPD the number of exacerbations has decreased substantially in a part of the patient group in West-Brabant. Research was started this week by the LUMC to validate these results in a bigger patient group. 

After a succesful co-creation pilot in 2017 with patients, the Bravis hospital and various health professionals in the region, this week research by researchers from the group of Prof. Niels Chavannes (LUMC) was started. Lead by a team within the Bravis hospital, location Roosendaal and Bergen op Zoom, a group of 40 patients will receive a smartwatch and they, along with their buddies (partner or one of the children), will receive instructions on how to use the EmmaCOPD eHealth tool on the smartphone. Patient are in contact with (or are connected to) their general practitioner, physiotherapist, dietician, pulmonary nurse practitioner, domiciliary care, their pulmonary doctor and their buddy. They can watch along and receive signals when help or support is needed.

EmmaCOPD as a connecting, transmural eHealth platform

EmmaCOPD is a CE Medical Device certified self-management platform for COPD patients that connects them to all people who support them in managing their illness. EmmaCOPD is a Persoonlijk Gezondheidsomgeving (PGO or personal health environment) in which patients are in control of who watches along. Patients wear a smartwatch, with which they have insight into their activity data and sleeping patterns. After setting individual step goals with their physiotherapist, the patients can keep their own activity under control. If they are not able to do so, their buddy is warned first and in a later stage their physiotherapist is warned. The programs are completely catered to the specific activity patterns of individual COPD patients.

Longaanval actieplan COPD

The Longfonds and the Longalliantie Nederland encourage the use of the exacerbation plan of action COPD by patients. The paper tool, developed by Dr. Jaap Trappenburg PhD (UMC Utrecht), helps patients to recognize an exacerbation sooner.  Serious exacerbations can often be prevented by acting sooner. In EmmaCOPD a digital workflow has been added, in which the patient goes through the steps of the exacerbation plan of action through an app. An advantage of DigiLAP as opposed to the paper version is that health professionals have more insight into the course of the illness and the minor exacerbations at home.

Medication adherence is very important for COPD patients. Not taking medication timely and regularly results in a higher sensitivity of pulmonary attacks.  EmmaCOPD contains the prize-winning medication alert functionality that has been successfully used by patients with a chronic illness of the AMC. Met EmmaCOPD kunnen de zorgverleners in West-Brabant gevalideerde vragenlijsten voor hun patiënt inroosteren. Health professionals in West-Brabant can schedule validated questionnaires for their patients within EmmaCOPD, such as the Clinical COPD Questionnaire, developed within the UMCG and the “ziektelastmeter, developed within Maastricht UMC. Patients no longer have to fill in these questionnaires during every consult and when meeting every health professional. Connected health professionals can see the functional state of the patient develop graphically and over time.

Ambitious goals

Oscar van Dijk, CEO of Medicine Men, developer of EmmaCOPD: “Our goal is to drastically reduce the number of hospitalizations caused by exacerbations together with all partners in the region. First with 25%, but later with more than 50%. EmmaCOPD will consist of more and more efficient interventions. When healthcare institutions integrate this eHealth technology into their regional processes, even bigger improvements will be in the future for patients and healthcare costs.”

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