Cases of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are rising throughout BNSSG (Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire), as they are throughout England. With lung disease in the UK costing a staggering £11 billion a year, Public Health England data shows that within BNSSG, emergency COPD admissions are within the highest 5% in the UK. To improve patient safety and reduce emergency admissions this project aims to rapidly adopt and use digital remote monitoring technology to support the growing challenges and costs associated with COPD.

What are we doing?

With the help of NHSX funding, the COPD Digital CHAMP (Coaching Health App Implementation Partnership) project aims to improve the lives of patients living with COPD within BNSSG by guiding them to self-manage their condition through the roll-out of the myCOPD app. The app helps people with COPD to manage their condition effectively at home, and thereby reduce the number of emergency healthcare visits they may need. The app has been widely deployed across the NHS.

The aim of the myCOPD app is to allow patients to manage their symptoms from home with the help of their healthcare professional. This is done through a variety of techniques. Features of the app include pulmonary rehabilitation videos, videos on inhaler technique, COPD checklists and lung function tests, weather and pollution forecasting, self-management plans and inhaler diaries along with notifications to keep users on track.

“I can honestly say, without fear of contradiction, I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t been on that app…I do manage myself better and I’m more aware, the key for me is the knowledge. That I’ve got it and I can regain that power.” – my mhealth website.

How will we do it?

With the help of Digital Health Champions and Clinical Champions, we will roll out the use of myCOPD across BNSSG. myCOPD will initially be implemented into the North-West localities of BNSSG (North and West Bristol and South Gloucestershire). If this model proves successful, roll-out will be continued into Central, South, and East Bristol, and finally in the Weston area.

We aim to have recruited 215 actively engaged myCOPD users by September 2022.

Findings from previous attempts to deploy myCOPD into local systems, which highlighted that administrative support is key to successful execution and embedding of the app, have been considered in this roll out.

 The role of the Digital Health Champion

The Digital Health Champions are new roles that are being piloted in the COPD Digital CHAMP project to help spread the uptake of the app. They will be responsible for recruiting patients onto the app following referral from acute, secondary and community care colleagues.  After they have enrolled eligible patients, they will provide coaching on how to use myCOPD, working with patients to understand and overcome individual limitations and difficulties in using the app. In addition, they will identify patients who are not actively engaged in using myCOPD and through remote consultations will work with these individuals to understand and overcome their barriers to self-management.

It is hoped that the Digital Health Champions will enable improved self-management of patients with COPD, with subsequent reductions in admission and re-admission rates.

Who are we working with?

We will be working collaboratively with Healthier Together, North Bristol NHS Trust, Sirona Care and Health and One Care to deliver this project. The myCOPD app has been developed by my mhealth and we will work alongside their team to ensure the app is working effectively for users.

“On average, patients receive 15 minutes with their clinical team per year to help manage their long-term condition. Our digital therapeutics provide round the clock access to proven medical interventions that reduces impact on healthcare services and improves patients’ symptoms and outcomes.” – my mhealth website.

We have recruited Digital Health Champions and Clinical Champions from Sirona Care and Health, and North Bristol Trust and the partners from community, primary and secondary care will work together to help spread and adopt the use of the myCOPD app.

Evaluation and how to find out more

A rapid evaluation exploring the benefits, barriers and experiences of staff and patients around this model will be completed by the University of Bath by April 2022. A full evaluation will be completed by October 2022.

To find out more, please contact the project manager, Megan Kirbyshire at the West of England AHSN.

A focus on COPD as part of the National Adoption and Spread Safety Improvement Programme (A&S-SIP)

The overarching objective of the A&S-SIP is to identify and support the spread and adoption of effective and safe evidence-based interventions and practice.

Each of the programme’s objectives intend to make medical procedures, and discharges from acute settings, as safe as possible whilst driving forward healthcare innovation.

In relation to COPD, our local delivery has focused on supporting an increase in the proportion of patients in acute hospitals receiving every element (for which they are eligible) of the British Thoracic Society COPD discharge care bundle.

Read more about A&S-SIP.