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Unique Challenges

Some of the greatest opportunities to help patients, providers, payers and all health care stakeholders, are found among respiratory patients

COPD & Pulmonary Co-morbidities
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the only major fatal illness in which the age-adjusted mortality rate is increasing, growing by 283% between 1979 and 2007. COPD accounts for a disproportionally large portion of health care utilization. COPD is a disease of comorbidities. Fifty-five percent of COPD patients have hypertension. Fifty-two percent have heart disease and 25% have diabetes. As the number of comorbidities surrounding COPD rises, so do the challenges of patient care and health related spending.

The Cost of COPD
In 2010 the total annual cost of COPD was an estimated $49.9 billion, exceeding those associated with heart failure. Health care utilization is approximately 2 to 3 times higher for those with COPD, seen in hospitalizations, emergency department admissions and outpatient encounters. Hospitalizations account for more than 25%, or $12.5 billion, of the total cost each yearCOPD is a progressive disease and has no cure. Invariably, patients will reach a stage of the disease marked by frequent exacerbations, ultimately resulting in chronic respiratory failure. These patients frequently experience what is known as the “failed cycle of care”. When patients experience an exacerbation, the most common reaction is to make their way to the emergency room or doctor’s office. They are treated with steroids, medications, non-invasive ventilation (BIPAP), and in cases of respiratory failure, mechanical ventilation.Shortly thereafter they begin to feel better and are discharged home. Yet nothing is ever done to address the cause of the exacerbation, or to prepare patients with resources to better manage their exacerbations. Though COPD patients are living with a chronic condition, over time, the trend in patient care has become treating with expensive and ineffective acute procedures.