The technology

myCOPD (my mhealth) is a digital self-management tool for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a care management aid for healthcare professionals. It is an app that people can access at home, on their phones, computers or tablets. Internet access is needed.

myCOPD provides online education, self-management advice, symptom reporting and pulmonary rehabilitation. It can:

  • teach people how to use their inhalers

  • make a self-management plan, to help people understand when to take their medications

  • cross-check prescribed medication, to identify any potential conflicts

  • conduct a COPD assessment, so that people can track their symptoms and learn how to control them better.

  • provide access to an online 6-week pulmonary rehabilitation course, consisting of an incremental exercise programme and education sessions to help promote self-management.

People using myCOPD can give healthcare professionals access to their data, to enable remote care and monitoring. If enabled, clinicians can review the person's profile, including medications and assessment reports. Clinicians are also able to suggest a change to the person's medications (including inhalers and devices), and any changes are shared with the person automatically through the app.

It is listed in the NHS Apps Library.

Innovations

myCOPD is a digital tool for people with COPD and healthcare professionals. It allows for remote care, and can create self-management plans based on self-assessed needs. The technology could be an alternative to some healthcare services such as face to face pulmonary rehabilitation and may be helpful for the people who are unable to access routine healthcare visits because of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing support to manage their COPD at home.

Current care pathway

According to NICE's full guideline on COPD, most people (90%) with COPD live at home, and their care is likely to be shared between healthcare professionals in primary and secondary care. COPD is mostly managed in primary care for people with mild and moderate symptoms who are not experiencing frequent exacerbations. People with severe COPD are likely to have frequent exacerbations, leading to hospital admissions.

The guideline covers management of stable COPD. A 2018 update covered monitoring, education and self-management. Follow up is recommended in the guideline for all people with COPD, at a higher frequency for people with more severe symptoms. Follow-up visits should review:

  • the need for referral to specialist care

  • smoking status

  • symptom control

  • complications

  • effects of medication

  • inhaler technique.

The guideline recommends training people to use their inhalers, and notes that most people with COPD can learn correct inhaler technique if they are trained.

It also recommends individualised self-management plans for people with COPD. These should include education, and an action plan for managing the risk of exacerbations. For some people with COPD (such as people who are functionally breathless or people who have recently been hospitalised because of an acute exacerbation), pulmonary rehabilitation is recommended. This helps to manage symptoms and improve exercise capacity and quality of life.

Population, setting and intended user

myCOPD is a self-management tool and could be used by people at any stage of COPD, including:

  • when newly diagnosed with COPD

  • after discharge from hospital

  • at an annual review

  • for people who cannot attend pulmonary rehabilitation classes.

myCOPD would be used remotely by patients and healthcare professionals.

Costs

Technology costs

The cost of myCOPD is £40 per person.

Costs of standard care

No estimate for the complete cost of care for people with COPD was identified. Examples of costs for pulmonary rehabilitation include:

  • 6-week outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation course (17 participants): £12,120 (Griffiths et al. 2001)

  • 8-week outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation programme (8 to 16 participants): between £522 and £1,044 per person (Chakravorty et al. 2011).

Resource consequences

myCOPD would be an additional cost to standard care.

The technology was supported by the innovation and technology tariff during 2017 and 2019. The company states that myCOPD has been used in the NHS since 2016, working with over 100 clinical commissioning groups commissioning the technology. The expert commentators suggested that myCOPD would be unlikely to need significant changes to facilities. The application can be set up by healthcare professionals for people with COPD.