Breathing Easy: Virtual Medication Education for Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Virtual visits with members of a pharmacy team can support patients recently discharged from the hospital with their medication use and improve outcomes among chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients at high risk for readmission.
Inhaling a better breath
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common chronic diseases among adults in the United States that often requires hospitalization and, far too frequently, rehospitalizations. Prescription medicines can help control COPD symptoms, but patients are often readmitted to the hospital due to medication misuse. Years of research by Dr. Valerie Press and her team at the University of Chicago showed that sometimes patients don’t know the proper technique to get the medicine into their lungs. Ongoing medication education after a patient is released from the hospital could increase efficacy of medication use and reduce rehospitalizations.
Home-schooling for medication education
The team is developing a medication education intervention for patients with COPD who have recently been released from the hospital. This intervention, called the Telehealth Education Leveraging Electronic Transitions of Care for COPD Patients (TELE-TOC), will let patients talk virtually with pharmacists, in the comfort of their own homes, and discuss which medications to use and how to properly take them. Clinicians can record these visits in patient electronic records.
“I worry about individuals getting left behind, and so it’s been a huge thread of my work in designing any technology-based intervention, trying to get under-resourced voices to the table.”
- Dr. Valerie Press
With stakeholder involvement and health equity at the core of the TELE-TOC development, Dr. Press and her team are building a tool that can be used for everyone in need of chronic lung disease self-management. The research team will include patient and clinician input every step of the way to ensure the user-centered design addresses the needs of all who would use and benefit from TELETOC. The technology has the potential to enhance proper medication use among the widely diverse patient population with COPD, while reducing hospital readmission.