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 aimed 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 aimed 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.

Watch our short explainer video featuring Dr James Dodd, Consultant Respiratory Physician, Southmead Hospital and Clinical Lead for the COPD Digital CHAMP project:

As our video explains, 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. App features 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 are we doing it?

With the help of Digital Health Champions and Clinical Champions, we rolled out the use of myCOPD across BNSSG. Implementation was initially focussed on North Bristol Trust, Sirona Care and Health and two GP practices. It then spread to University Hospitals Bristol and Weston (UHBW) and all interested GP practices within BNSSG. By the end of September 2022, 525 patients were using the app, far exceeding our target of 250.

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, had been considered in this roll out.

The COPD Digital Champion Service and the role of Digital Health Champions

The Digital Health Champions were new roles piloted in the COPD Digital CHAMP project to help spread the uptake of the app. They are responsible for recruiting patients onto the app following referral from acute, primary, secondary and community care colleagues.  After they have enrolled eligible patients, they provide coaching on how to use myCOPD, working with patients to understand and overcome individual limitations and difficulties in using the app.

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.

Read our case study

“Improving my confidence and giving me the belief that I could do it is the main thing that I’m grateful for. I don’t think I would have used the app if I had not had the coaching from the Digital Health Champion because of my fear of technology.” – Sue, COPD Champion Service patient.

Read more about Sue’s experiences using the app in our short case study.

Who are we working with?

We worked collaboratively with Healthier Together, North Bristol NHS Trust, Sirona care and health,  University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Founation Trust and One Care to deliver this project. The myCOPD app has been developed by my mHealth and we worked alongside their team to ensure the app was 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 recruited Digital Health Champions and clinical champions from Sirona care and health, North Bristol Trust and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust and together the Digital Health Champions form the cross-organisational COPD Digital Champion Team.

Evaluation and how to find out more

A rapid evaluation exploring the benefits, barriers and experiences of staff and patients around this model was completed by the University of Bath: this informed development of the project. A full evaluation will be completed by early 2023.

To find out more about implementation in primary care, visit TeamNet.

To find out more, please contact Senior 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 was to identify and support the spread of effective interventions and practice.

In relation to COPD, our local delivery was 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.