Odile Bigaignon

For people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a long-term lung illness, COVID-19 is having a major impact. The pandemic has disrupted traditional models of care and put vulnerable patients at risk. Keeping patients out of hospital – by reducing scheduled visits and avoiding emergency admissions – has become the top priority. A silver lining in these difficult times is that the outbreak has sparked increased interest in telehealth, home monitoring and connected devices – highlighting innovative technologies that facilitate remote care. However, this has also brought into sharp focus a number of barriers to digital health. The value of digital health Not only can digital technologies enable care in a way that COPD patients are increasingly likely to adopt during the pandemic, it also opens the door to better services that offer peace of mind through remote monitoring. Connected non-invasive ventilation therapy gives patients the comfort of knowing they are not alone – their care team has access to how they are doing with their therapy if there is a problem. By identifying and treating issues early, distressing and high-risk exacerbations may be reduced. This in turn may control the number of costly admissions, some of which begin in emergency departments and lead to intensive care units (ICUs). This translates into benefits for patients, healthcare professionals and the wider health system. Connected devices offer opportunities for research on big datasets. Researchers can analyse a wealth of population healthcare data along with other datasets, including patient activity and environmental factors, to learn how best to manage patients and avoid exacerbations. Sensor-enabled inhalers can also collect valuable information about how devices are used or identify patient adherence issues. However, despite telemonitoring technologies having the potential to open the way for big data research, most of the European countries are still...