Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly known as COPD, is a chronic inflammation lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. More than 24 million Americans are affected by COPD, and it is the third leading cause of death worldwide. People that suffer from COPD are at increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer and a variety of other conditions.
Although there is no cure for this worldwide chronic disease, treatment can help slow the progression of the condition and control the symptoms. Symptoms include shortness of breath and breathing difficulty, ongoing cough, mucus production, wheezing and chest tightness. COPD is typically caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from cigarette smoke.
In 2019, there were approximately 536,000 COPD hospitalizations and 1,320,000 emergency department visits according to the American Lung Association. These numbers result in a total economic cost close to $50 billion per year. COPD is often preventable and treatable but when not cared for it is very costly. Virtual care plays a critical role in supporting COPD patients.
Using Virtual Care to Treat COPD Patients
Virtual care platforms such as VitalCare provide key outcomes like reduced readmissions and lowered costs. Through VitalCare, caregivers can conduct virtual visits and schedule messages to help patients better manage their condition. Let’s get into how you can utilize VitalCare to manage COPD.
Management of COPD requires patients to employ lifestyle changes and coping techniques like:
- Quit Smoking: As stated earlier, smoking is one of the major causes and risk factors of COPD. It is highly important to quit smoking to slow down the progression of the disease. Therefore, the first and most essential step in any COPD treatment plan is to quit smoking. To quit smoking – especially without help – can be difficult. VitalCare’s constant engagement between patient and provider makes quitting possible. Providers can share knowledge, information, and resources to help patients through this tough process.
- Healthy Eating: Diet and nutrition play a vital role in managing the symptoms of COPD. The right mix of nutrients in your diet can make breathing easier. Drinking plenty of water is important to stay hydrated but it also helps to keep mucus thin. Healthy eating and nutrition are crucial to fight infections, which COPD patients are at greater risk of. VitalCare’s platform allows patients to track their daily intake and monitor their weight so providers can be sure they are properly managing it.
- Proper Inhaler Use: It is most common to treat COPD with medications that come in inhalers or nebulizers. These inhalers and nebulizers come in many different forms and require different techniques which may be new to patients. Proper training, education and resources of the medication are needed to help patients learn how to use their medication effectively.
- Regular Monitoring: COPD patients need to be monitored regularly to ensure symptoms are not progressing. Frequent engagement with patients allows providers to determine any lifestyle changes that need to be made to maintain good health. Regular monitoring can reduce the frequency and severity of COPD exacerbation symptoms leading to reduced costs. Through the use of virtual care, the level of monitoring a patient receives can be based on the severity of the symptoms.
Managing COPD with virtual care gives patients constant support and knowledge of their condition which empowers patients to take control of their health in the comfort of their own home. Through VitalCare, providers can seamlessly monitor patients giving them the quality care they deserve at an affordable price.
Learn more about how VitalCare can help you care for your COPD patients.