Hybrid pulmonary rehab for patients with lung disease

A new research project at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals aims to offer patients suffering from lung conditions a ‘hybrid’ programme for pulmonary rehabilitation (PR), allowing a combination of in-person and remote sessions.

PR is an exercise and education programme designed for people with lung disease who experience symptoms of breathlessness, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, interstitial lung disease and bronchiectasis. The programme allows healthcare professionals to tailor physical exercise and provide education that helps people to better understand and self- manage their condition. PR is usually conducted in-person, supervised by specialist staff, with participants attending twice a week for eight weeks.

One of the targets of the NHS Long Term plan is to ensure more people access PR. However, there are insufficient specialist staff to meet these demands, and waiting times can be long.  In response, there has been a drive for digital solutions to help support the provision of PR.

In collaboration with the healthcare company Aseptika Limited, the research team secured £500,000 in funding from the NHS Small Business Research Initiatives (SBRI) scheme which funds ideas and new technologies that address known challenges within the NHS.

Led by Professor William Man, respiratory consultant, the respiratory research team and PR teams based at Harefield Hospital will work with Aseptika Limited to deliver a hybrid PR programme, which will allow patients a combination of in-person, video conferencing or self-supervised sessions.  

The programme will be delivered by an app which includes live video exercise sessions, individualised pre-recorded exercise and education sessions, environmental data (such as pollution level and pollen count) and remote-monitoring.  Patients in the new hybrid programme will be given a smart phone which will allow them to be carefully monitored at Harefield by a central portal.

The study will compare waiting times, uptake and completion rates, and patient satisfaction rates of the hybrid service compared with traditional PR services.

On receiving the funding, Professor William Man said:

“We are delighted to be the lead clinical partner in this exciting project. Harefield Hospital is at the forefront of pulmonary rehabilitation clinical practice and research, and we look forward to testing this technology to see whether it meets the needs of our patients and our service delivery requirements.”

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