Digital health solutions are shown to help improve asthma self-management. What about COPD?

Man with COPD who uses digital health solutions

Digital health solutions are beginning to transform chronic respiratory disease care.

Extensive research has demonstrated that the use of digital health tools can help people with asthma successfully self-manage their conditions. Several studies with asthma participants have shown that pairing a medical device to an associated digital platform (such as a mobile app or provider dashboard) can lead to positive health outcomes including increased medication adherence, decreased rescue inhaler use and lower symptom burden.1,2 

However, far fewer studies have been conducted to understand how the use of digital health tools can impact those with COPD. With more than 15 million Americans affected by COPD3, a projected economic burden of nearly $50 billion dollars4 and a ranking as the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., Propeller believes that building this body of research will be instrumental in continuing to steer advancements in chronic respiratory disease care.

To help address this, the COPD Foundation and GSK collaborated with Propeller to conduct a 24-week pilot study with a COPD population. We sought to determine the extent to which people with COPD voluntarily engage with a digital health solution (the Propeller platform an inhaler sensor and mobile app) and how it impacted their medication adherence and rescue inhaler use over time. 

The study had 122 participants who were recruited from the COPD Foundation’s COPD Patient-Powered Research Network (PPRN). At study end, we found that controller medication adherence was high, averaging 77% throughout the entire study period. For a subgroup of 51 participants who used rescue inhalers, they experienced a 10% decrease in rescue use and an 8% increase in rescue-free days. 

When it came to app usage over the 24 weeks, we found that participants typically spent a little under 10 minutes per session engaging with app content. This could have included reading evidence-based health and breathing tips or learning more about their medication use patterns and triggers. 

In addition to understanding medication adherence and app usage, our team was also interested in the overall participant experience. Using exit surveys and a focus group, we were able to assess participant sentiment toward the platform. Participants self-reported that they were overall very satisfied with the Propeller platform and found the inhaler sensor and mobile app easy to use and the audio-visual medication reminders helpful.

Infographic summarizing key takeaways from COPD focus group

Although more research still needs to be done, the results of this study signal an optimistic outlook for people with COPD using digital health solutions as part of their respiratory care plan. The positive feedback on the Propeller platform further reinforces the notion that with the right resources, people with COPD can feel more empowered to take control of managing their condition and potentially experience better outcomes. 

To learn how Propeller can support your patients or health plan members with COPD, contact us at provider@propellerhealth.com


1 Moore et al. (2021)
2 Merchant et al. (2016)
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on COPD (2021)
4 CDC on COPD Costs (2018)