Developing web-based resources for patients with respiratory diseases

My Topol fellowship problem / project:

SPACE for COPD is an interactive, web-based programme of exercise and education. The programme aims to help individuals develop the skills to carry out medical regimes, exercise programmes and other aspects of self-care.

There are 4 stages to the programme, each stage comprising specific tasks and individualised exercises. Interactive elements allow patients to record and monitor their weight, stress levels, smoking habit and exercise levels. There is extensive information available, including symptom management, action plan to help avoid/manage exacerbations, clearing your chest, inhaler techniques, exercising safely and strength exercises.

Progress is monitored throughout by a PR specialist. SPACE for COPD is password-protected and only those registered can access the programme. Patients who choose to do the PR programme via the website can complete it in 6 weeks but will continue to have access to the programme and all its features for 12 months.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, clinical services were forced to think differently about how they delivered PR. The SPACE for COPD website has been a very successful alternative to be able to offer to Trusts for them to manage their clinical workload and offer a rehabilitation option to patients. However it has highlighted the need for a website that covers all respiratory diseases. The evidence-base for Pulmonary Rehabilitation in patients with chronic lung diseases other than COPD is an expanding area.

Although a lot of the areas would be the same, there are some subtle differences that would need to be addressed, particularly for the disease-specific education components. Ideally, the registration process would be sophisticated enough to identify and differentiate the respiratory disease. This would then take you to individual sections relevant to that respiratory condition whilst still having an interactive exercise programme.

The current website also requires an update of content e.g. new medications on the market. The current version of SPACE for COPD is on an old format. I would be keen to explore the different platforms/ applications that the programme could be delivered on as well as developing the interactive components as currently the blog and video chat are underutilised. There is also a need to make the programme accessible to non-English speaking patients and it would therefore be ideal to be able to develop the site in different languages.

I am a senior Pulmonary Rehabilitation physiotherapist who has worked within the Pulmonary Rehabilitation department at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester for over 10 years in both research and clinical services. I qualified as a physiotherapist from Coventry University in 1998 and started work at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital before moving to the Glenfield Hospital in 2000 where I specialised in the cardio-respiratory field.

I initially worked in the physiotherapy department leading the respiratory medicine and General ITU service for 10 years. In 2010, I joined the Pulmonary Rehabilitation research department (Centre of Exercise and Rehabilitation) before moving to manage the clinical service in 2014.

Recently I have also been involved in setting up and delivering both the breathlessness rehabilitation, as well as the COVID rehabilitation, service and pathways as well as the Your COVID recovery website. Whilst in the research team, I led a study comparing conventional PR with an interactive, web-based PR programme – SPACE for COPD. This is now embedded within the clinical service as an alternative option for patients.

I have previously been a member of the ACPRC committee and represent the ACPRC on the BTS Pulmonary Rehabilitation Quality Improvement Advisory Group and BTS Pulmonary Rehabilitation Guideline Group.