COPD Digital CHAMP (Coaching Health AppImplementation Partnership)

Cases of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are rising throughout Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire, as they are throughout England. With lung disease in the UK costing a staggering £11 billion a year, Public Health England data shows that within our local area, emergency COPD admissions are within the highest 5% in the UK.

To improve patient safety and reduce emergency admissions this project aims to rapidly adopt and use digital remote monitoring technology to support the growing challenges and costs associated with COPD.

What we did

With the help of NHSX funding, the COPD Digital CHAMP (Coaching Health App Implementation Partnership) project aimed to improve the lives of patients living with COPD within Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire by guiding them to self-manage their condition through the roll-out of the myCOPD app. The app helps people with COPD to manage their condition effectively at home, and thereby reduce the number of emergency healthcare visits they may need. The app has been widely deployed across the NHS.

The aim of the myCOPD app is to allow patients to manage their symptoms from home with the help of their healthcare professional. This is done through a variety of techniques. Features of the app include pulmonary rehabilitation videos, videos on inhaler technique, COPD checklists and lung function tests, weather and pollution forecasting, self-management plans and inhaler diaries along with notifications to keep users on track.

‘I can honestly say, without fear of contradiction, I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t been on that app…I do manage myself better and I’m more aware, the key for me is the knowledge. That I’ve got it and I can regain that power’

– my mhealth website

How did we do it?

With the help of Digital Health Champions and Clinical Champions, we rolled out the use of myCOPD across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. Implementation was initially focussed on North Bristol Trust, Sirona Care and Health and two GP practices.

It then spread to University Hospitals Bristol and Weston (UHBW) and all interested GP practices within Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. By the end of September 2022, 525 patients were using the app, far exceeding our target of 215.

Findings from previous attempts to deploy myCOPD into local systems, which highlighted that administrative support is key to the successful execution and embedding of the app, had been considered in this roll out.

The role of the Digital Health Champion

The Digital Health Champions were new roles piloted in the COPD Digital CHAMP project to help spread the uptake of the app. They are responsible for recruiting patients onto the app following referral from acute, primary, secondary and community care colleagues.

After they have enrolled eligible patients, they provide coaching on how to use myCOPD, working with patients to understand and overcome individual limitations and difficulties in using the app.

Who are we working with?

We worked collaboratively with the West of England AHSN, North Bristol NHS Trust, Sirona care and Health, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston and One Care to deliver this project. The myCOPD app has been developed by my mhealth and we worked alongside their team to ensure the app was working effectively for users.

We recruited Digital Health Champions and Clinical Champions from Sirona care and healthNorth Bristol Trust and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust and together the Digital Health Champions formed the cross-organisational COPD Digital Champion Team.

Evaluation and how to find out more

A mixed-methods approach was taken to understand the impact of Digital Health Champions (DHC) on the uptake and ongoing use of myCOPD app.

The quantitative evaluation, completed by Unity Insights, sought to understand the engagement levels of the DHC-enabled myCOPD users and the characteristics and demographics of patients who accepted enrolment onto the app.

The evaluation did not focus on the impact of the app itself, only the additional benefit of using DHCs to support roll-out.

A second evaluation, completed by the University of Bath, reviewed findings through a two-phase qualitative approach. Phase 1 aimed to explore the barriers and facilitators of patient and clinical engagement with the myCOPD app, to inform ongoing implementation of the COPD Digital Champion Service and provide recommendations to ensure the service was as effective as possible during the second phase of the pilot. Phase 2 aimed to explore the stakeholder experience of the Digital Champion Service and its implementation.

You can read the full evaluation report and supporting documents on the West of England AHSN website.

Supporting research into digitally enhanced respiratory care pathways

With up to half of all hospital beds being occupied by patients with respiratory illnesses, supporting discharges, preventing disease exacerbations and readmissions is key to ensuring the NHS can manage the growing number of patients needing help.

To support an improved understanding of how digitally enhanced care pathways can support improved patient outcomes, we are working with my mhealth to support a research study focused on use of the myCOPD app.

The study, to assess the impact on readmission rates, will be held in the two acute Trusts in Bristol where the COPD Digital CHAMP project has been established. A second element of research relates to use of the app during pulmonary rehabilitation in Cornwall.

My mhealth, which received bid writing support from the West of England AHSN to secure funding for the research studies, was one of six successful awardees in the 2022/23 SBRI respiratory competition announced in January 2023.

Find out more about this project on the West of England AHSN website