Building a Telemonitoring Package for COPD

March 2, 2016
Dava Stewart

Can telemonitoring help patients with COPD? Researchers in the UK report on a effective package.

It may be more feasible for those providing service to patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to build a comprehensive telemonitoring package with components from multiple suppliers than to work with a single vendor to create one telehealth system, according to recent report.

The report, published in the journal Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases on February 29, 2016, was written by Ghassan A. Hamad, General Practitioner and a Clinical Senior Fellow at the Center for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research at the University of Hull, Castle Hill Hospital, in East Yorkshire, UK, and colleagues.

The authors say, “Telehealth, defined as the remote monitoring and care of patients at home, has been seen as a system of supporting patients with specific chronic illnesses that are prone to exacerbations and remissions.”

COPD is one such illness, and some good results have been obtained through telehealth for COPD patients. According to the authors, “A typical COPD telehealth kit consists of ‘peripheral devices’ to collect vital signs, such as blood oxygen saturation, connected to an electronic platform, for example a tablet computer or a smart phone.”

The collected information is sent to clinicians and alert systems are in place to flag patients in danger of experiencing exacerbations.

The authors of this report focused on the current telehealth technology market in the UK to gain insight into the options available, as well which technical solutions provide value for their cost.

They explain, “In 2013, a team of clinicians with interest in COPD telehealth from the University of Hull (UK) examined the potential for replacing the COPD bespoke telehealth packages available from corporate telehealth suppliers with a telehealth kit using ‘off-the-shelf’ components whenever possible.” Although this approach may seem logical, the authors say they contacted numerous suppliers and found that “the majority of the commercial equipment suppliers declined to permit a ‘mix and match’ approach that allows one to shop around and procure certain components of the telehealth package.”

Most required customers to contract for a full package, including the leasing of equipment rather than outright purchase, and for a minimum of six months. In order to test the theory that it would be more cost efficient to use off-the-shelf components, the team at the University of Hull conducted a pilot program with 10 patients for 6 months. They contracted with a company to provide software for 6 months, they purchased the necessary hardware outright, and worked with a local company for the 3G connectivity necessary.

They noted “Given the non-bespoke nature of this telehealth solution and the wireless connectivity, there was no need for engineer visits to install or de-install equipment, further reducing the overall cost of the package.--page-->It may be more feasible for those providing service to patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to build a comprehensive telemonitoring package with components from multiple suppliers than to work with a single vendor to create one telehealth system, according to recent report. The report, published in the journal Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases on February 29, 2016, was written by Ghassan A. Hamad, General Practitioner and a Clinical Senior Fellow at the Center for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research at the University of Hull, Castle HIll Hospital, in East Yorkshire, UK, and colleagues.

The authors say, “Telehealth, defined as the remote monitoring and care of patients at home, has been seen as a system of supporting patients with specific chronic illnesses that are prone to exacerbations and remissions.” COPD is one such illness, and some good results have been obtained through telehealth for COPD patients. According to the authors, “A typical COPD telehealth kit consists of ‘peripheral devices’ to collect vital signs, such as blood oxygen saturation, connected to an electronic platform, for example a tablet computer or a smart phone.” The collected information is sent to clinicians and alert systems are in place to flag patients in danger of experiencing exacerbations.

The authors of this report focused on the current telehealth technology market in the UK to gain insight into the options available, as well which technical solutions provide value for their cost. They explain, “In 2013, a team of clinicians with interest in COPD telehealth from the University of Hull (UK) examined the potential for replacing the COPD bespoke telehealth packages available from corporate telehealth suppliers with a telehealth kit using ‘off-the-shelf’ components whenever possible.”

Although this approach may seem logical, the authors say they contacted numerous suppliers and found that “the majority of the commercial equipment suppliers declined to permit a ‘mix and match’ approach that allows one to shop around and procure certain components of the telehealth package.” Most required customers to contract for a full package, including the leasing of equipment rather than outright purchase, and for a minimum of six months.

In order to test the theory that it would be more cost efficient to use off-the-shelf components, the team at the University of Hull conducted a pilot program with 10 patients for 6 months. They contracted with a company to provide software for 6 months, they purchased the necessary hardware outright, and worked with a local company for the 3G connectivity necessary.

They noted “Given the non-bespoke nature of this telehealth solution and the wireless connectivity, there was no need for engineer visits to install or de-install equipment, further reducing the overall cost of the package.”

The authors conclude, “With the latest advances in technology and increased competition, telehealth service providers may wish to consider the option of building their own telehealth solution and customize it to achieve the best value for money which may improve the sustainability and scalability of providing telehealth to patients with chronic diseases in general.”