Pulmonary rehabilitation delivered to COPD patients via telehealth videos helped reduce 30-day all-cause COPD readmissions, according to research published in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham provided a video telehealth pulmonary rehab (PR) program to patients who were hospitalized for AECOPD.

The PR telehealth program included 36 exercise sessions for 12 weeks. The exercise regimen included a combination of initial stretching and breathing exercises, followed by 20 minutes of aerobic exercises using a portable foot peddler provided as part of the study. The goal was to achieve heart rates between 60 and 80 percent of the maximum recorded on the baseline six-minute walk test.

According to results, COPD patients participating in the telehealth PR program had a 6.2% 30-day all-cause readmission rate compared to 18.1% in the non-intervention group (? = 11.9%).

“Participating in an exercise program soon after hospitalization for an acute exacerbation of COPD is associated with a substantially lower readmission rate within 30 days of discharge,” Surya P. Bhatt, MD, associate professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine said in a UAB press release.

The program is now offered to stable outpatients in clinic who have COPD, but do not have access to pulmonary rehabilitation closer to home, Bhatt explained in the release. “The video telehealth pulmonary rehabilitation program, by overcoming many barriers to early initiation of pulmonary rehabilitation, can expand access to pulmonary rehabilitation, especially for patients who live in rural areas.”

Ultimately the program could reduce COPD-related hospitalizations, which drive two-thirds of COPD healthcare costs, according to Bhatt.