Providers play key role in new COPD campaign
WASHINGTON - A new campaign to increase awareness, early diagnosis and treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), places home medical equipment providers on the front lines in fighting the country's fourth leading cause of death.
"This is a huge opportunity for homecare providers to reach older patients in their homes and be the early warning system for COPD," said Michael Reinemer, vice president of communications and policy for AAHomecare.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) launched its "Learn More Breathe Better" campaign Jan. 18 with a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The press conference featured statements from agency officials, physicians and COPD patients, including Grace Anne Dorney Koppel, the wife of Ted Koppel, the former anchor of ABC's Nightline.
More than 20 partners, including the American Association for Respiratory Care, have pledged to help the NHLBI implement its campaign. AAHomecare has joined the effort by assisting the agency to "get the word out" about COPD, Reinemer said.
"It can be simple as providers talking about COPD with their patients and handing out literature," he said.
Providers like Chris Burgess, respiratory director for Medical Emporium in Charlotte, N.C., have already begun doing that. Instead of just treating COPD patients with home oxygen therapy and nebulizer medications, Medical Emporium recently began asking its delivery technicians to hand out literature on COPD and smoking cessation.
"I'd say close to half our oxygen patients are COPDers, and being in the tobacco belt, a lot of them are smokers," he said. "Our delivery techs give them the literature and document it in their chart, and we pass that info along to their physicians."
By broaching the subject with their patients, providers can help to make identifying the signs of COPD as common as identifying the signs of stroke or heart attack, says Barbara Rogers, president and chairwoman of the board for the National Emphysema/COPD Association in Albuquerque, N.M.
"In this age of managed care, the patient education that could and should be given by healthcare providers is often not given or not heard, and the patient ends up relying on their peers," she said. "HME providers can help to pick up the slack."
Other parts of the NHLBI's campaigns: Print and radio public service announcements (PSAs), fact sheets for patients, fact cards for healthcare professionals, a Web site (www.learnaboutcopd.org) and an educational video.