BACKGROUND: Telemedicine and electronic health (eHealth) interventions have been proposed to improve management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for patients between traditional clinic and hospital visits to reduce complications. However, the effectiveness of such interventions may depend on patients' comfort with technology.
OBJECTIVE: The aim was to describe the relationship between patient demographics and COPD disease severity and the use of communication-related technology.
METHODS: We administered a structured survey about the use of communication technologies to a cohort of persons in the COPDGene study at one midwestern hospital in the United States. Survey results were combined with clinical and demographic data previously collected as part of the cohort study. A subsample of patients also completed eHealth simulation tasks. We used logistic or linear regression to determine the relationship between patient demographics and COPD disease severity and reported use of communication-related technology and the results from our simulated eHealth-related tasks.
RESULTS: A total of 686 patients completed the survey and 100 participated in the eHealth simulation. Overall, those who reported using communication technology were younger (P=.005) and had higher incomes (P=.03). Men appeared less likely to engage in text messaging (P10 (P=.02) and walked shorter distances in their 6-minute walk tests (P=.003) than those who took less time.
CONCLUSIONS: Older patients, patients with lower incomes, and less healthy patients were less likely to report using communication technology, and they did not perform as well on our simulated eHealth tasks. Thus, eHealth-based interventions may not be as effective in these populations, and additional training in communication technology may be needed.