Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a leading cause of acute hospitalizations in Canada, and the only chronic disease with rising mortality rates. Despite evidence that shows pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is associated with improved quality of life and a 56% reduction in hospital readmission when started within 30 days post discharge, less than 1% of patients with COPD access these programs.
Wanting to tackle these issues within their own organization, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH) sought out a solution. The goal was to implement a virtual PR program for COPD patients that is integrated with the SJHH Epic hospital information system. Expected outcomes for COPD patients on this program include improved quality of life, physical activity, and disease self-management, in addition to reduced risk of hospital readmission and emergency department visits. The Epic interface is a core success criterion for this program to ensure effective integration within existing clinical workflows and high-end user adoption.
In 2021, SJJH teamed up with Aetonix, an Ottawa-based digital health company that develops easy to use virtual care platforms to provide telehealth, care pathways, and remote patient monitoring for patients and clinicians.
Together, the two organizations built the virtual rehabilitation pathway targeting admitted COPD patients and established the first HL7 integration between Epic and Aetonix. Specifically, patients admitted to hospital with a COPD exacerbation will be eligible for this 10 week program where they will receive:
- An Aetonix tablet and oximeter to use for the duration of the program
- Virtual exercise sessions with a physiotherapist twice a week
- Prompts to complete independent exercises
- Prompts to independently review educational content developed by the team at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton
- Virtual touchpoints with a COPD educator to reinforce educational learnings
In addition, the Epic integration ensures that patient demographics, appointment information, and health data are shared seamlessly and securely between Aetonix and Epic, reducing documentation errors and manual transcription of information in both systems. Importantly, this innovative HL7 integration can be leveraged by other Canadian hospitals using Epic within their organization.
Overall, this program will expand capacity and provide increased access to PR within 30 days of discharge, significantly improving health outcomes for COPD patients and decreasing hospitalizations.