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Learning from good diagnosis to improve self management of COPD

Published 06/04/2022

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100,000 Lives isn’t the first time we’ve worked to improve outcomes for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But as SCV’s Robyn Hudson explains, this time we’re helping patients stay well at home.

Robyn Hudson smiles toward the camera

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis – is a major cause of death in Australia. And while it can’t be cured, it can be managed to slow disease progression, relieve symptoms and help people stay at home.

Driven by data that showed high readmission and length of stay for people with the diagnosis of COPD diagnoses in the Hamilton region, we worked with local general practitioners and health services to take a closer look in 2018.

What we found was interesting: more than half of the region’s services didn’t have the spirometry equipment to accurately diagnose COPD. In one primary care setting, 205 people had a COPD diagnosis but not had spirometry conducted.

This meant that some people were potentially being misdiagnosed, and receiving inappropriate medicines and treatment.

"As a result of this project, all eight GPs and hospitals in the area now have, and are trained to use, functioning spirometry machines."

But something even more interesting came out of this work.

In improving diagnosis, we also saw a 10 per cent increase in people completing pulmonary rehabilitation, an essential component to preventing hospital admissions and readmissions.

Taking what we learnt into 100,000 Lives, we’re going to continue this work in helping patients to self manage their COPD.

Keeping people out of hospital, and at home where they are comfortable and have their support networks is so beneficial to the consumer, the community and the health system.

Our Improving Management of COPD project aims to reduce admissions and readmissions for people with COPD by 15 per cent.

Robust evidence shows us specific interventions to improve COPD care and reduce hospital admissions. So we’re developing high-quality guidance, tools and consumer resources to optimise self care and support, embed clinical pathways, and discharge planning bundles.

Robyn Hudson is our Executive Director, Engagement

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