COPD treatment -- There's an app for that

October 07, 2013

Stephen Rennard, M.D.

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Stephen Rennard, M.D.
As a member of the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Foundation's board of directors, Stephen Rennard, M.D., sees three challenges for health care providers relating to cardiopulmonary disorder:
  • Identifying undiagnosed cases.
  • Ensuring patients already diagnosed are diagnosed correctly.
  • Ensuring appropriate treatment.

Dr. Rennard -- UNMC's Larson Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Section of the Department of Internal Medicine -- helped lead a project of the COPD Foundation to address these needs, including the development of an iPhone application.

Other UNMC contributors included: Leigh Anderson, M.D., Joseph Auxier, D.O., Kristina Bailey, M.D., Salman Khan, D.O., Oleena Lineberry, M.D., Ankit Nahata, M.B.B.S., Amol Patil, M.B.B.S., and Austin Thompson, M.D.

"The existing COPD guidelines provide a lot of useful information that can be brought to bear on patients," Dr. Rennard noted.

"The problem is, most guideline documents are hundreds of pages long -- even the executive summaries are frequently 20 pages or more."

An average clinician, dealing with many different clinical problems, doesn't have time to read different sets of guidelines on each condition, Dr. Rennard said.

"What's needed is really something that's very pithy and immediately relevant, which is why we created this."

The COPD Pocket Consultant Guide -- available as an app or in traditional card form -- is designed to facilitate easier, more effective diagnosis and therapy for COPD during daily clinical care.

"We didn't try to reinvent any of the assessments that went into the guidelines," Dr. Rennard said. "What we did is synthesize various guidelines that were available and extract the information that's needed for clinical decision making. So everything is of clinical relevance.

"We tried to extract the information and put it in a format that's easy to use. And an app is even easier."

With the COPD PCG app, health care professionals fill in a symptoms assessment, spirometry results, and exacerbation history for each patient in order to access a therapy chart. The chart highlights further testing and/or therapy, stressing the importance of evaluating co-morbid conditions.

Dr. Rennard and the foundation completed traditional pocket cards early in the year, then followed up by putting the information into an easy-to-use app, which is available to be downloaded for free.

"A lot of people much prefer an app to a piece of paper they have to carry around with them," he said.

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