Partnering on research for better COPD care

Before his diagnosis, Dan Smith was an active walker and snowbird, often traveling with his wife overseas. Then, 10 years ago, he started having trouble breathing. “I ended up in the hospital, which is when I was told that I have severe COPD,” recalls the 77-year-old.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung condition that has a significant impact on the lives and longevity of millions of Canadians. Hospitalizations due to what are called ‘lung attacks’—when symptoms worsen—are a routine part of living with the condition, as are limitations on the ability to exercise and challenges going about daily tasks.

Knowing the importance of getting help to manage his condition, Smith began treatment right away. He met with his family doctor, as well as respiratory and rehabilitation specialists. However, he soon discovered that his patient records were not shared between care providers, and treatment guidelines were not necessarily tailored to his lifestyle. 

In around 2017, Smith started pulmonary rehabilitation at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre at Vancouver General Hospital. There he met Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute researcher, Dr. Mohsen Sadatsafavi, who later asked Smith if he would like to be a patient partner for a study to support personalized COPD care using state-of-the-art technology. 

Smith agreed and soon after started contributing to Sadatsafavi’s IMplementing Predictive Analytics towards efficient COPD Treatments (IMPACT) study. Backed by a $1.99M Canadian Institutes of Health Research grant, Sadatsafavi and his fellow researchers began developing a predictive medicine tool for precision COPD care that better tailors treatment plans to the individual characteristics and needs of each patient.

The software is scheduled to be connected with the harmonized electronic health records (EHR) system used in tertiary care centres across British Columbia. EHR is also a source of patient diagnoses and outcomes data that the research team is tapping into to refine their treatment recommendation algorithm.

Continue reading the story here.