Cystic fibrosis (CF) patients who monitored their lung function at home using NuvoAir‘s handheld spirometer and smartphone app were able to better engage in telemedicine, a U.K. survey found, with these patients reporting a more than 30% drop in their number of scheduled and urgent in-person consultations.
The study based on survey results, “Patient experience of virtual consultations: survey results,” was to be presented at the 2020 European Cystic Fibrosis Conference in Lyon, France, but the meeting was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Abstracts have been shared in a supplement of the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis.
People with CF need to undergo routine assessments at the hospital, with guidelines recommending reviews every three to six months to monitor lung function and weight, among other measures.
These visits are critical for diagnosing new lung infections that may put patients at risk, and for monitoring how well they are responding to treatment. But they can be time-consuming and inconvenient, and put patients at an increased risk of infection.
The ongoing pandemic has also made these routine hospital visits more challenging, reinforcing the need for home monitoring systems.
NuvoAir respiratory platform consists of a handheld spirometer that measures the maximum amount of air a patient can forcefully blow out of their lungs in one second — a measure called forced expiratory volume in one second — as well as the forced vital capacity (FVC) of the lungs.
The spirometer connects to a user-friendly app that collects the lung function measurements, along with data on weight, helping patients understand how their disease progresses over time. These data can also be shared with a clinical team via a practitioner portal during virtual consultations, limiting the need for in-person doctor visits.
Researchers with the Royal Brompton Hospital, in London, and with NuvoAir surveyed 41 CF patients who had been using NuvoAir’s virtual consultation system for at least six months. Survey questions asked patients about their perceptions of that technology, their understanding of their disease, and their use of related healthcare services.
Survey participants had taken part in virtual consultation services for 13 months on average, and some were using this virtual system for more than two years. Their average age was 37.
Results showed that patients reported a significant, 30.9% drop in the number of scheduled face-to-face consultations, from an average of 5.4 to 3.7 visits per year.
The number of urgent in-person visits was also significantly lower, by 39.8%, dropping from an average of 2.2 visits per year prior to adopting the technology to 1.3 visits each year.
According to NuvoAir, its app can display patient data directly to the patient in an intuitive and informative way. In the survey, 43.9% of respondents said that they understood their CF better since beginning the service. Seven of the 41 respondents (17.1%) also reported better adherence to their medication.
Nearly all respondents reported a favorable acceptance of telemedicine. On a 10-point scale, all respondents rated their acceptance of these services at seven or higher, for an average rating of 9.4.
The technology did not affect antibiotic usage and hospitalizations.
NuvoAir expects that its technology will help physicians predict worsening respiratory conditions and optimize their workflow by focusing on the most critical cases.
“The integration of digital therapeutics into routine clinical practice is starting to gather pace, particularly during the pandemic. Innovative clinicians … are now utilising innovative tools to transform their clinical services to be more efficient and cost-effective, without compromising quality of care or patient outcomes,” Lorenzo Consoli, CEO of NuvoAir, said in a press release.
“Patients are responding positively to these digital tools too, largely as a result of the increased engagement they feel they gain with their clinical team. We look forward to helping the clinical community accelerate this journey and make digital therapeutics a standard in respiratory medicine,” Consoli added.
The company reports that over 30 hospitals worldwide currently use the NuvoAir virtual system to help patients with CF, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, severe asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Its technology also supports over 20 clinical trials around the world, it added.
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