Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients oftentimes have frequent exacerbations that require emergency departments visits and hospitalizations, which is associated with increased health care utilization, especially when those patients have low adherence to long-acting bronchodilators. Clinical studies suggest that electronic inhaler monitoring (EIM), which consists of tools that allow real-time tracking of medication utilization, fosters adherence and ultimately reduces health care utilization.
Cleveland Clinic researchers initiated an EIM program for patients with COPD and high health care utilization and reported the results at the 2018 American Thoracic Society (ATS) International Conference, in San Diego, California.
Sitting down with MD Magazine, Umur Hatipoglu, MD, Cleveland Clinic, discussed why electronic inhaler monitoring is associated with lower healthcare utilization among COPD patients with frequent hospitalization and ED visits.
How is adherence of electronic inhaler monitoring for patients with COPD associated with lower health care utilization?
Umur Hatipoglu, MD: We prescribe medications, 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 or not and we are left with yes or no. Yes I'm using it, no I'm not using it.
But the reality is, there's a continuum of use. People are adherent a percentage of the time to their medications, and we never know what that number is objectively. I think electronic inhaler monitoring allows that to happen. You basically have the patient with you, and you'd have a percentage of adherence. And if that percentage of adherence is lower than what is expected, you could conduct a discussion with the patient as to why that may be. Maybe they're not even aware, it's unwitting adherence problems and this could potentially improve patient outcomes.
So this was basically the gist of the idea, in incorporating electronic inhaler monitoring to the care of patients with COPD.