Hospitals, Startups

Cleveland Clinic study finds Propeller Health platform helps reduce hospitalizations among COPD patients

The research, which was published in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, involved 39 patients who have COPD and had at least one hospitalization or emergency room visit during the year prior to enrollment.

New research from Cleveland Clinic found the use of electronic inhaler monitoring combined with a disease management program reduced healthcare utilization in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

An article on the findings was published May 16 in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare.

The study took place between October 2016 and May 2017. It involved 39 patients who have COPD and had at least one hospitalization or emergency room visit during the year prior to enrollment.

All patients received electronic monitoring devices and rescue inhalers. Digital therapeutics company Propeller Health provided the monitoring platform, which connects a sensor to the patient’s existing inhaler. The sensor is paired with a mobile app and transmits data to the patient’s smartphone so the individual can track his or her medication adherence and usage trends. Alerts were also emailed to the researchers, who could gain insight into the patient’s rescue and controller medication use.

“We chose Propeller Health’s technology because it was the most common platform in the United States and it is relatively easy to use,” said Dr. Amy Attaway, one of the study authors, in response to emailed questions.

The results show that when compared to the year before enrollment, patients experienced a reduction in COPD-related healthcare utilization, as the average number of trips to the hospital went from 3.4 to 2.2.

Additionally, there was a reduction in all-cause healthcare utilization, but it was not statistically significant, according to the research.

“We were encouraged to see that most patients were able to use the device without issue, and that around three-quarters of patients who performed the voluntary end-of-study survey noting the EIM [electronic inhaler monitoring] sensor was either ‘very easy to use’ or ‘easy to use,'” Attaway said.

In a comment sent to MedCity, Propeller Health CEO David Van Sickle added that the study “shows not only that digital health can decrease healthcare utilization for COPD, but also that patients find the tools easy to use and they can be readily adopted in today’s clinical setting.”

Attaway did note that the study had a few limitations, such as the fact that it was a single center pre- and post-study without a control group. However, she said the results were encouraging.

“We hope to see our findings replicated in a larger multicenter study to help confirm our findings and improve the overall healthcare for COPD patients in the United States,” she said.

According to the American Lung Association, more than 11 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, though millions more may have it without knowing it. There is currently no cure for COPD.

Photo: chrupka, Getty Images