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Electronic Inhaler Monitoring Benefits COPD Patients

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 25 Jun 2019
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Image: The Propeller Health EIM fits on top of a standard inhaler (Photo courtesy of Propeller Health).
Image: The Propeller Health EIM fits on top of a standard inhaler (Photo courtesy of Propeller Health).
Electronic inhaler monitoring (EIM) is associated with reduced healthcare utilization in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a new study.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic (OH, USA) conducted a retrospective study involving 39 patients with COPD and at least one hospitalization or emergency room (ER) visit in the year prior to enrollment in order to examine the effect of using EIM (in conjunction with a disease management program) on healthcare utilization. Study participants were provided a Propeller Health (Madison, WI, USA) EIM that fits onto an inhaler; the EIM sensor transmits data to a smartphone or data hub, delivering alerts and insights on medication adherence and usage trends.

The patients were contacted when alerts were triggered, indicating suboptimal adherence to controller inhaler or increased use of rescue inhalers. Healthcare utilization was assessed both pre- and post- EIM monitoring. The results showed a significant reduction in COPD-related healthcare utilization compared to the year prior to enrollment, from an average of 3.4 trips to the hospital to 2.2 trips. There was also a reduction in all-cause healthcare utilization, which was not statistically significant. Mean EIM duration was 280.5 days, and the average EIM adherence level was 28.4%. The study was published on May 16, 2019, in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare.

“We prescribe inhaled medications for patients with COPD all the time. It's really the cornerstone of their therapy, and when they return to the clinic, we do ask them whether they're using their medications,” said senior author pulmonologist Umur Hatipoğlu, MD, of the CC Respiratory Institute. “But the reality is we never know how adherent patients are objectively. Electronic inhaler monitoring allows us to assess inhaler adherence at the point of care.”

COPD is a debilitating lung disease, the third-leading cause of death worldwide, and its prevalence is increasing as baby boomers reach the age range of disease manifestation. In the United States, 20% of patients who are hospitalized for COPD flare-ups are re-admitted within 30 days, placing a significant cost on most hospitals that use current care models. Readmission rates are so high that the Affordable Care Act fined more than 78% of U.S. hospitals for their readmission performance related to COPD in 2015.

Related Links:
Cleveland Clinic
Propeller Health

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