England Using Home Spirometry Kits to Cut Down on Hospital Visits

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by Forest Ray PhD |

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Thousands of people in England with cystic fibrosis (CF) soon will be equipped with digital home spirometry kits. This will allow patients age 6 and older to monitor and share vital lung function information with their physicians without leaving home unnecessarily to make often-lengthy journeys to the hospital.

Monitoring changes in lung function alerts those with CF and their medical teams to a deterioration in their health, enabling swift action in the event that treatment is needed.

The COVID-19 pandemic poses further challenges for CF patients because the infection severely affects lung function.

Spirometry tests are a standard tool for assessing lung function. The Cystic Fibrosis Trust has been working with NHS England and the U.K. CF Medical Association to offer CF patients at-home spirometry kits.

The U.K. CF Registry, managed by the  CF Trust, further assisted this effort by providing data to help NHS England write the guidance needed to launch the new spirometer initiative.

“The measurement of lung function, which normally occurs in hospitals, is essential to tracking disease progression and deciding changes in treatment. Enabling thousands of cystic fibrosis patients across England to provide this information without leaving their home is a vitally important step change in reducing the need for hospital attendances or admissions,” Andy Menzies-Gow, NHS national clinical director for respiratory services, said in a press release.

The CF National Network, which advised NHS England, and is a key element of the CF Trust’s investment in digital health, considers home-based spirometry a vital health measurement for people with CF.

“The expansion of home spirometry by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) to 4,000 people with CF across England is great news,” said Janet Allen, MD, director of strategic innovation at the CF Trust.

“If patients can share the data, it will help clinical teams make important decisions about care during these difficult times, making it easier for people with CF to monitor their own health while routine face-to-face outpatient clinics are on hold,” Allen said.

NHS services in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland also are considering their own initiatives for providing home spirometry kits.