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Applying technology to help people affected by COPD to look after themselves

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a significant and growing health problem globally – it’s set to become the third most common cause of death worldwide by 2030 – and is a particularly acute problem in Greater Manchester.

Since first qualifying as an adult nurse, I’ve spent over 30 years conducting research on people living with and managing chronic conditions, including those with COPD. In that time I’ve seen first-hand how it causes increasing breathlessness and severely impairs quality of life for patients in Manchester.

I’m currently working on the development of a ‘smart inhaler’ device with colleagues from The University of Manchester, and have another study in development regarding using ‘exergames’ to help people affected by COPD to take control of their condition.

I also sit on the British Lung Foundation’s local Breathe Easy planning group with Dr Binita Kane, consultant respiratory physician at University Hospital of South Manchester, who has been involved in CityVerve since the start of the project.

Dr Kane mentioned my current research projects to Julie Harrison, the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust project lead, and when I was approached to join the CityVerve project I jumped at the chance. I’ll now be heading up the consortium’s efforts to combat COPD as principal investigator on this use case.

Coming full circle

When I started my research career in 1986, as a research assistant on a project relating to computer assisted learning for people with kidney failure receiving peritoneal dialysis, it was back when computers only had 16 colours and you still used 256KB floppy disks! Working on the CityVerve project, with its focus on technology, feels like coming full circle.

CityVerve is a really interesting initiative – the idea of ‘connected cities’ is very exciting and offers real potential for improving healthcare delivery and patient outcomes. The planned COPD use case activities also complement my own current interests well.

Over the next 18 months, I hope to lead projects to identify technology which is useful and acceptable to people with COPD. We’ll be assessing whether use of technology can encourage patients with COPD to get more actively involved in the management of their condition, and to demonstrate whether interconnectivity of different technologies can add value in the management of COPD.

Finding ways of helping people with COPD to manage their condition – whether by improving their use of medications, staying physically active or getting more involved in making decisions about their condition’s management – is vital.

The CityVerve project has the potential to make a real difference and I’m tremendously excited to get started.

March 07, 2017 in News



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