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Combating COPD Readmissions

Improving patient outcomes with technology and connected health innovations.

Advances in technology coupled with changes in readmissions and reimbursement policy standards are fueling a boon in healthcare innovation.

New solutions and products are offering benefits across the health continuum that are enabling practitioners to gather clinical data in real-time and make more informed, personalized decisions about each individual care plan. 

As monitoring technology evolves, systems are better able to understand patient vital signs and detect a shift that could signal imminent deterioration, prompting intervention earlier than previously possible.

Moreover, in many situations, physicians no longer need to be at the bedside to check on their patients. Virtual and telehealth solutions are connecting clinicians and patients in new ways, keeping the patients more involved in their care and allowing their doctors to better manage their conditions. These advances offer the possibility of better outcomes at lower costs.

Chronic Disease
This trend of more connected, analytical technology is improving the way physicians are able to treat patients with a number of chronic illnesses. Chronic lower respiratory disease, primarily chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), continues to be a leading cause of death in the United States. 1

According to the CDC, while 15 million Americans report being diagnosed with COPD, many more are unaware they have the disease, suggesting the actual number of people suffering from COPD in the U.S. is much higher than records indicate.1  The CDC estimates that caring for patients with chronic conditions, including COPD, accounts for 70% of the annual healthcare spending in the U.S.2

Globally, a study by The World Economic Forum predicts that the cost of treating the five leading non-communicable diseases -- cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes and mental ill-health -- could total $47 trillion over the next 20 years.3

Because of the progressive nature of COPD, management of the disease is challenging and costly. Many patients require a combination of therapies, some complex in nature that may lead to frequent hospital readmissions.

While the nature of COPD is not changing, how patients can be and want to be treated is evolving with technological advancements we're seeing across the industry.

Consumers are increasingly looking for new ways to take control of their personal health in order to live healthier and better lives. And COPD patients are no exception. COPD patients have learned that being active may improve their quality of life and they want and deserve the type of innovative solutions that allow them to be mobile. Therefore, innovation that allows these products to be used both within and outside the home is a critical consideration for the advancement of healthcare. 

As innovators behind new solutions and treatments for COPD patients, we are constantly examining therapy options for more complete disease management, while striving for exceptional clinical outcomes, improved economic outcomes and the best quality of life possible for patients. Today, the innovative focus is on facilitating a constant, two-way connection between the COPD patient at home and the clinicians in charge of his or her care.

This includes utilizing telehealth solutions that allow providers to monitor patient data including physical activity, respiratory rates, heart rhythm and heart rate variability. Clinicians can even have a simple conversation with their patients about how they are feeling. This real-time data and direct patient-physician interaction gives a more complete picture of the patient's overall health and allows the care team to pick up on any changes or possible complications sooner, possibly allowing for a preemptive intervention that could help prevent readmission. While still in the development stages, this is the type of technology that will enable COPD patients to be true partners in their own healthcare and enable clinicians to practice more targeted, personalized medicine with the overall goal of improving outcomes and reducing costs.

Complementary Technology
The research and development (R&D) world is also focusing on offering COPD patients technologies that complement and optimize standard of care protocols and drug therapies.  Along with being smarter and more connected, people living with COPD want devices that are smaller and more discreet and that promote mobility. For those who rely on oxygen or non-invasive ventilation, equipment should promote independence rather than hinder it. There is a shift in the industry to offer updated, easier-to-use solutions that are more portable and operate via batteries with longer run times. We foresee that the next generation of products will look less clinical and therefore less intimidating, providing both comfort and confidence to users while maintaining clinical effectiveness, outcomes, and user safety.

The catalyst behind this evolution in COPD innovation is two-fold: the rising engagement of consumers who want to proactively monitor and manage their health and the pressure on the healthcare system to create new models of care that deliver better outcomes at more affordable costs.  As a result, connected products and data integration will increasingly enable clinicians treating and managing the COPD population to offer more effective, lower cost solutions that could help patients maintain a higher quality of life.

Eli Diacopoulos is vice president and general manager, Philips Respironics.

References
1. CDC. What is COPD? Available at: www.cdc.gov/copd/index.htm.
2. CDC. The power of prevention. Available at: www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/pdf/2009-power-of-prevention.pdf.
3. Mohindra D. Non-communicable diseases to cost $47 trillion by 2030. Available at: www.weforum.org/news/non-communicable-diseases-cost-47-trillion-2030-new-study-released-today

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