Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, who used a telemedicine-based app to report their daily symptoms and received same-day treatment recommendations from their provider, experienced fewer and less severe COPD exacerbation symptoms as well as an improvement in daily symptom control, lung function, and activity status.

That’s the conclusion of a two-year clinical study conducted by Temple University Health Systems’ Lung Center in Philadelphia and published in the journal Telemedicine and e-Health.

Also See: iPhone App to Help COPD Patients Self-Manage Their Disease

In the Pennsylvania Study of COPD Exacerbations (PA-SCOPE), patients using the app were able to report their respiratory symptoms and peak expiratory flow measurements, which were assessed by a computer algorithm and compared with initial values to achieve a symptom deviation score—a measure of how serious the symptoms are relative to the patients’ baseline metrics. Scores 1 or more points above the initial score generated an “alert” and patients were reviewed by a nurse and referred to a physician who prescribed treatment.

“Previous studies at other sites have questioned the efficacy of various telemedicine solutions in COPD patients, but those studies have not used a solution that enables same-day treatment in response to worsening patient symptoms,” said Gerard Criner, M.D., director of the Temple Lung Center and principal investigator of the PA-SCOPE study. “We have been studying digital health solutions for COPD symptom management for over a decade and are pleased that the improvements we have seen in our patients in response to early identification and intervention has been documented in this clinical study.”

Eighty-six patients were screened for the PA-SCOPE study; 79 met entry criteria and were randomized (39 in the intervention group and 40 in the control group). While the study failed to enroll the number of patients needed to show either a mortality benefit or reduction in hospitalization days prior to the end of study funding, results were in the predicted direction, according to the authors.

“Future studies are needed with greater numbers of patients enrolled to be able to address that outcome, and additional research is already underway with that aim," said Francis Cordova, M.D., medical director of the Lung Transplantation Program at Temple University Hospital and lead author on the study.

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