COPD in FOCUS presented three new digital health solutions co-created by clinicians and digital health startups

On 9 March at the event “Digital solutions in the management of chronic diseases: Experience of the COPD IN FOCUS programme” the results of the innovation programme dedicated to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were presented and the question on how to bring new digital health solutions into use more quickly was discussed.

The programme COPD IN FOCUS initiated by the Estonian Respiratory Society and involving all stakeholders was implemented by the Estonian Connected Health Cluster. The programme aimed to find innovative solutions on how to identify more efficiently people living with COPD and organise their treatment with better results. “When speaking about chronic diseases, it is always the heart disorders that are in the focus since the mortality rate is so high for these conditions. COPD has been ignored even though it ranks first among Estonian men and second among women on years lost due to disability,” explains Dr Rain Jõgi, chairman of the Estonian Respiratory Society and head of the Pulmonary Clinic of the Tartu University Hospital.

The programme’s EUR 40,000 innovation fund supported the prototyping and testing of three innovative ideas for solution. “Within the framework of COPD IN FOCUS, three teams composed of leading clinicians and health technology startups have worked on ideas for solutions in the past four months. At the event, they presented the prototypes and shared their experience gained during testing on patients,” says Kitty Kubo, innovation lead of the Connected Health Cluster.

The solution “Smart screening of COPD and SPG at the primary level”, which is designed to make the process of finding COPD patients more efficient, was developed by the Järveotsa Family Health Centre, Pulmonology Centre of the North Estonia Medical Centre, and technology companies Dermtest and Diagnostic Match.

The telemedicine solution “My COPD” is aimed for home monitoring of severe COPD patients to prevent exacerbations and to support self-management of the disease. It is backed by the team of the Pulmonary Clinic of the Tartu University Hospital and digital health companies Cognuse and Quretec.

The prototype of a solution that supports COPD patients in pulmonary rehabilitation, “Breathe and Move”, was born as the co-development of the Pulmonary Clinic of the Tartu University Hospital, Rehabilitation Centre of the North Estonia Medical Centre, Tartu Health Care College, and health technology startups MotionChart and Sentab.

The discussion at the event focused on the critical question on how to bring innovative digital solutions to healthcare professionals and patients faster than it has happened so far. “COPD IN FOCUS initiated developments that are relevant for Estonian healthcare, from which all stakeholders can learn and move on. To keep momentum and continue, we want to elaborate roadmaps on how to go on and which changes need to be achieved in Estonian health system and its funding to cover the whole innovation process from small-scale piloting to large-scale dissemination,” Kubo adds.

The discussion was inspired by Susanne Duus from the Danish Agency for Digitisation who presented how, by 2019, home monitoring service will be made available to every COPD patient in Denmark. The decision is based on the results of several pilot projects, which demonstrated that home monitoring improves treatment outcomes, prevents exacerbations and related costly hospitalisations, improves the quality of life of people living with COPD, and enables health care cost saving.

The programme was powered by GSK, Novartis, and Boehringer Ingelheim.