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Revisiting Apps for COPD

August 2017

By Tom Stibolt, MD, Mobile Musings Column Editor

It has been a while since we looked at apps to help our patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. There are several newer options available.

COPD Navigator is an app developed using Apple’s ResearchKit. It is a product of LifeMap, which has created a few patient directed apps. The app purports to improve self-monitoring using real-time measurements from connected health devices. The company working with partners is developing algorithms to detect the onset of exacerbations and help the patient and doctor to recognize patterns of concern. These features will enable the patient and care team to intervene earlier to potentially prevent a COPD exacerbation.

The app helps patients avoid environmental triggers with real-time local air quality and weather alerts to prevent exacerbations. It also tracks medication adherence to identify behavioral triggers of exacerbations. It further helps to identify trends so the patient or their care team can take action and improve their health. The app includes numerous educational resources developed by providers at the Pulmonary Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York City. The app also uses “proven” methods for patient engagement via health points for completing surveys, data tracking, and graphing. Further, working in partnership with Icahn, LifeMap is hoping to provide unprecedented amounts of secure, anonymized data to facilitate ongoing research into COPD.

The app is free and is only available for iOS devices.

For the Android user there is Medocity COPD Care. It claims to be a virtual nurse and companion designed to help patients better manage their care and focus on their lives. It claims to bridge the care gap between the clinic and the home. It helps patients manage their medications, track overall health, symptoms and treatments, as well as share progress reports with their doctors. It provides guidance with timely disease and drug specific information. It also allows patients to share and connect with their care team and loved ones using live video and messaging.

The app is free and requires Android 4.0 or greater.

An article in the online journal JMIR mHealth and uHealth looked at a number of apps for COPD, looking for studies testing their efficacy. The research group is based in the UK, Netherlands, and Greece, and they further reviewed existing mHealth apps from different sources in order to identify features that can be considered in the initial design of a COPD support tool to improve health care services and patient outcomes.

Out of the 20 apps downloaded and examined, 65 percent had an education section, 25 percent consisted of medication and guidelines, and 30 percent included a calendar or diary, and other features such as reminders or symptom tracking.

The team notes that there was little published material on the effectiveness of the identified COPD apps. Features such as (1) a social networking tool; (2) personalized education; (3) feedback; (4) e-coaching; and (5) psychological motivation to enhance behavioral change were found to be missing in many of the downloaded apps.

This paper nicely summarizes the features of a patient-support mobile app that can be taken into consideration for the design of an integrated care system and encourage self-management of COPD at home. The article is available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5339437/.

 

Editor’s note: The ATS does not endorse any of the programs or products mentioned in this column.

Last Reviewed: September 2017