A telehealth program for self-management of COPD exacerbations and promotion of an active lifestyle

The goal of this pilot study was to investigate the use of and satisfaction with a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) telehealth program admiistered in both primary and secondary care. The program consisted of four modules: 1) activity coach for ambulant activity monitoring and real-time coaching of daily activity behavior, 2) web-based exercise program for home exercising, 3) self-management of COPD exacerbations by use of a triage diary on the web portal, including self-treatment of exacerbations, and 4) teleconsultation. Twenty-nine COPD patients were placed at random into either the intervention group (telehealth program for 9 months) or the control group (usual care). Page hits on the web portal showed the use of the program, and the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire displayed satisfaction with received care. The telehealth program with decision support exhibited good satisfaction (mean 26.4, maximum score 32). The program was accessed on 86% of the treatment days, especially the diary. Patient adherence with the exercise scheme was low (21%).

Health care providers appear to play an important role in patients’ adherence to telehealth in usual care. Future research should focus on full-scale implementation in daily care and investigating technological advances, like gaming, to increase adherence.

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