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Telehealth for COPD patients

Research summary

Researchers: Prof. Lionel Tarassenko, Dr Carmelo Velardo, Dr Syed Ahmar Shah, Dr Gari Clifford

Clinical collaborators: Prof. Andrew Farmer and Dr Carl Heneghan (Dept of Primary Health Care), Dr Maxine Hardinge (COPD Lead, OUH Trust), Dr Jonathan Price (Dept of Psychiatry)

Funding: Wellcome Trust and Department of Health (Health Innovation Challenge Fund)

Our aim is to build a generic telehealth solution for the management of chronic illness, based on mobile communications technology (smart phones and tablets) and capable of large-scale deployment, with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as the first exemplar.

We have shown that a properly-designed self-management application on an Android tablet can be made intuitive and easy to use, even by elderly people with no prior experience of computing. The design of the human/computer interface relies on large icons with bright colours for selecting menu options or answers to symptom diary questions. Self-monitoring data and diaries completed by the patients are transmitted in real time to a remote server and patients are provided with self-management content on the tablet. The use of the sensor technology has been optimised to provide the maximum amount of information on the patient’s physiological status for the least possible cost to the patient (in terms of disturbance to the activities of daily life).

Compliance for the 23 patients in our cohort feasibility study has been very high. The percentage of days on which diaries have been completed is 84%: for 3103 monitoring days for the 23 patients, we have collected 2600 diaries. 2259 of these have included pulse rate and oxygen saturation information as well as derived respiratory rate. Changes in symptoms or vital sign values, with respect to the baseline for that patient (as captured in a personalised model), are more important than their absolute values.