SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Five international health-care societies, representing 200,000 primary care and specialty clinicians, have announced their formal partnership in the fight against chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The COPD Alliance, composed of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the American College of Chest Physicians, the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, and the American College of Osteopathic Internists, is dedicated to helping primary care clinicians help their patients with COPD achieve better outcomes.
Although COPD awareness programs are not new, the COPD Alliance is taking a unique approach to COPD education by targeting primary care clinicians. This is significant because it is estimated that 24 million Americans may have COPD, with only 50% having been diagnosed. In 2010, the total economic cost of COPD is expected to be $49.9 billion, This includes $29.5 billion in direct health-care expenditures and $20.4 billion in indirect costs.(1)
"Primary care clinicians are the gatekeepers for our health. If they are unable to recognize the signs of COPD or high-risk individuals, the disease may remain undiagnosed and untreated," said Brian Carlin, MD, FCCP, Chair of the COPD Alliance. "By educating our primary care clinicians, we give them the tools to identify high-risk patients, confirm a diagnosis, and provide initial treatment."
STEP Forward Against COPD
Although there is no cure for COPD, symptoms can be controlled to improve a patient's quality of life. The COPD Alliance is asking primary care clinicians to step forward in the fight against COPD, the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, and focus on four key steps to identify patients with COPD and help them live well with the disease:
- S – Screen patients at risk
- T – Test and diagnose using spirometry
- E – Educate your patients about COPD
- P – Provide care and support
COPD Resources and Education
To support clinicians in the four-STEP process, the COPD Alliance will provide clinicians with timely information, resources, and education programs, all focused on igniting a significant change in the recognition, diagnosis, and treatment of COPD. To keep COPD information at clinicians' fingertips, the COPD Alliance has launched www.COPD.org, a central Web-based repository of new and existing COPD tools readily available and accessible for free. The resources include a COPD patient screening tool, the Tobacco Dependence Treatment ToolKit, and several patient education guides that clinicians can download and distribute to patients in their offices.
In 2011, the COPD Alliance will launch a nationwide program aimed at educating primary care clinicians about how to identify and diagnose COPD in high-risk patients, as well as provide initial care and education for their patients with COPD. As part of this ongoing initiative, the five medical societies will develop and deliver an education program tailored to the knowledge and awareness level of their members while keeping a consistent message about the importance of COPD identification and diagnosis.
"A main focus of the Alliance is collaboration between organizations and among different types of clinicians," said JoEllen Wynne, RN, MSN, FNP-BC, Vice Chair of the COPD Alliance. "By working together as equal members of a team, we can quickly access and act on the most current research, build consensus, and educate and motivate clinicians, all with the patient in mind."
COPD is a common lung disease characterized by dyspnea and wheezing. Patients with COPD have trouble pushing used air out of their lungs, making it difficult to take in healthy new air. COPD includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or both. The most common cause of COPD is cigarette smoking, a behavior clinicians can work to prevent and help patients overcome. Genetic factors and environmental and occupational elements may also cause COPD.
About the COPD Alliance
The COPD Alliance is a multisociety alliance of professional organizations and corporations that use a focused awareness and education campaign to bring about significant change in the recognition, diagnosis, and treatment of patients suffering with COPD, a prevalent but preventable disease. The Alliance represents 200,000 health-care professionals working in primary or secondary care. The COPD Alliance gratefully recognizes Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Pfizer Inc. for their support of this initiative. For more information about COPD and the COPD Alliance, visit www.COPD.org.
(1) National Heart Lung Morbidity and Mortality: 2009 Chartbook on Cardiovascular, Lung and Blood Diseases
SOURCE American College of Chest Physicians