Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a complex disease that requires multiple care providers working together closely. Recent advances in telemedicine technologies have generated enormous potential benefits for COPD management and care. This review aims to explore the clinical, economic, organizational and patient-quality-of-life impact from using telemedicine systems for COPD and to provide a comprehensive description of these methodologies.
Methods: We conducted a structured search of bibliographic databases for peer-reviewed research literature using a focused review question. We include quantitative and qualitative studies. Data extraction and quality assessment of the reviewed studies were done with standardized forms and checklists.
Results: The support of evidence from studies points to beneficial results of telemedicine in its various manifestations. Benefits include the reduction of emergency department attendances and hospitalizations, but little evidence has been found to make a strong case for telemedicine regarding the quality of life or economic improvements. Internal organizational consequences of telemedicine are frequent and efficient use of the technology requires organizational changes. Telemedicine modifies traditional practices and can help patients better engage in managing their health. Nevertheless, telemedicine must be integrated into a care process and within a care model.
Conclusion: COPD telemedicine interventions could significantly reduce the risk of emergency department attendance and hospitalization. It is an important area of research, and further studies of the effect of telemedicine for patients with COPD would be beneficial.