Providers seek just-the-right app

COPD patients need support, but what’s the best role for technology?
Friday, December 4, 2015

YARMOUTH, Maine – Mobile apps could help COPD patients better manage their symptoms—if they’re done right, say HME providers.

Provider Chris Rice, who has been “tinkering” with apps with an eye toward creating his own, has found they break down into two main categories: educational apps that seem to have no ongoing support, and apps that track symptoms and facilitate communication with the physician. None are comprehensive enough, he says.

“The app that’s going to win out is going to be inclusive of education, symptom tracking and a community,” said Rice, CEO of Diamond Respiratory in Riverside, Calif.

Apps geared toward sleep tracking and diabetes management have already gone mainstream, so it is not surprising apps for COPD are starting to enter the market. The COPD Foundation in October launched COPD360coach, an interactive website and mobile app.

Provider Bob McCoy says, while apps can be useful, disease management must go beyond simply tracking data.

“I’ve found there’s a lot of emphasis on compliance,” said McCoy, managing director of Valley Aire Respiratory Services in Apple Valley, Minn. “People look at processes and technology, without an understanding of expected outcomes and benefits.”

McCoy would like to see an app that targets family members or caregivers who need information about their loved one’s condition.

“I get calls all the time from relatives trying to find out what mom’s options are, or why does she have this piece of equipment,” he said.

There’s no denying, however, that the time for apps has come, says Rice, who experienced just how prevalent they are during a recent doctor’s appointment.

“The doctor used an app on his phone to calculate a cardiac risk score—and he was a cardiologist!” he said. “Go figure.”