New coach approach

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

WASHINGTON – COPD360coach, an interactive website and mobile app, could be a breakthrough in the way COPD patients are treated in the U.S., says Craig Kephart, executive director of the COPD Foundation.

Launched by the COPD Foundation and ViiMed, a health IT company, the software uses modules comprised of online videos and courses taught by health professionals and COPD patients to coach, educate and monitor the wellness of other COPD patients.

“We’re providing peer-to-peer health coaching,” said Kephart. “Someone who’s been trained as a health coach, but also has COPD—we’ve found that to be extremely compelling.”

The foundation also hopes to use the website and app to measure outcomes, such as decreased exacerbations and hospitalizations and unscheduled doctors visits, as well as increased use of medication and physical activity.

Should users need medical advice, the app also allows them to contact their nurse, physician or respiratory therapist directly via text, email or video message.

While Kephart believes COPD awareness is growing, he acknowledges that it’s not growing fast enough. The urgency is real: Unlike the mortality rates for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and unintentional injuries, which have decreased between 1969 and 2013, COPD-related deaths are on the rise, according to a 2015 study from the American Medical Association. 

“The challenge is, COPD gets very little funding for research,” said Kephart. “Ultimately, we need to find a cure.”