TCOPD affects 210 million people globally, with 50% of costs (unplanned hospital admissions) that could be avoided with more responsive models of care. 30% of COPD patients in the NHS are re-admitted to hospital once within the year. Within 10 years, COPD will become the third leading cause of death. Even if everyone stopped smoking today, the effect on COPD statistics would not be seen for up to 20 years.
A research group headed by Prof Tarassenko at University of Oxford proposes to develop an easy-to-use system for patients to monitor their condition, based on mobile communications technology (hence the name of mHealth). The project will make use of the latest generation of smartphones and tablets to enable COPD sufferers to complete patient diaries, respond early to worsening symptoms, and receive support from a respiratory nurse who has access to all of their data. This will lead to improved self-management and a higher quality of life for these patients, with a reduction in the number of severe exacerbations which they experience and which require an unplanned and costly hospital admission.
A key goal of their approach is to bring the costs of telehealth technology by at least an order of magnitude to enable it to be adopted on a much larger scale than at present.