Both a prestigious medical publication and an American conference have shown that an online rehabilitation tool for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was found to be as effective as face-to-face rehabilitation programmes at improving patients’ exercise capacity and symptom control.
According to new research presented at the 2017 American Thoracic Society International Conference, the results for the patient group which logged in to the MyPR application from their home computers were not inferior to those in the face-to-face group, who participated in six-week group sessions at a local rehabilitation centre.
Similarly, a randomised control trial published in the British Medical Journal evidenced that a six-week programme of online-supported PR was non-inferior to a conventional model delivered in face-to-face sessions in terms of effects on the six-minute walk test distance and symptom scores, and was safe and well tolerated.
MyPR is part of the larger MyCOPD software app, and is the first to be supported in the UK by the NHS's Innovation and Technology Tariff (ITT). The ITT was introduced to incentivise the adoption and spread of transformational innovation in the NHS. MyCOPD is available at zero cost for selected patients through the ITT.
“For many patients, attending in-person classes isn’t easy and we know that attendance rates are variable,” said lead author Professor Tom Wilkinson of the Southampton University Faculty of Medicine at Southampton General Hospital. “This study challenges the paradigm that pulmonary rehabilitation needs to be delivered using a conventional face-to-face class-based approach. This study has shown that MyPR is non-inferior to usual pulmonary rehab for key improvements in exercise capacity and symptom control. This effect was seen with minimal clinician involvement in the online arm, demonstrating that digitally supported pulmonary rehabilitation is both safe and effective."
Prof. Wilkinson added: “Further studies are needed to explore how, during implementation, the platform can be best used in blended digital services. Research should also examine the benefits of use of MyPR over the long term, as the app, unlike face-to-face classes, can deliver maintenance pulmonary rehabilitation at minimal cost.”