Tullamore Hospital Empower Patients and Redefine COPD Care with Digital Innovation

 Tullamore Hospital Empower Patients and Redefine COPD Care with Digital Innovation

The Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore has introduced a new initiative, the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Virtual Ward. This program launched in March 2024 with the aim of transforming the care of patients with COPD by using digital technology.

COPD is a debilitating respiratory condition characterised by persistent respiratory symptoms and airflow limitation. These patients require regular hospital visits and this poses a significant burden on both patients and healthcare systems. Upon attending the Emergency Department, COPD patients are identified as being suitable for this new service and are then enrolled in the COPD Virtual Ward with their agreement.

COPD Virtual Ward 1

At the heart of this new service lies the integration of digital health technology through the Patientmpower App. Through this user-friendly application, patients can report daily symptoms, and are equipped with a pulse oximeter to monitor vital health metrics including oxygen levels and heart rate on a daily basis. This data is then transmitted directly to the healthcare professionals' platform. Any deviations from target levels or concerning trends, trigger instant alerts, prompting timely intervention and personalised care plans to address emerging issues before they escalate.

Senior Physiotherapist on the COPD Outreach Team, Claire Connor who has taken the lead on this project, discusses the transformative impact of the COPD Virtual Ward: "This initiative represents a positive shift in COPD management. By harnessing digital health technology, we are empowering patients to take an active role in monitoring their health, while facilitating timely intervention by healthcare professionals. Our goal is not only to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions but also to empower patients with a deeper understanding of their condition, fostering greater autonomy and improved quality of life."

COPD Virtual Ward 2

Ciara Galvin, Physiotherapy Manager in Charge III in MRHT said, “This project has brought our traditional way of clinical practice to a new era in digital medicine, educating the patient to manage and monitor their condition in their own home, reducing cost of care and increasing valuable time resources for the clinician.”

COPD Virtual Ward 3

Catriona Mc Donald, General Manager MRHT stated, “Virtual wards aim to reduce reliance on hospitals and support patients’ preferences for care in their own homes. We are delighted to see this initiative rolled out in MRHT, we have seen the data from the initiative pilot project that shows the reduction in admission rates and improvements in health outcomes during this time. We look forward to seeing how this initiative benefits patients with COPD in the Midlands” This project is governed by Dr. Chithra Varghese Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, with funding obtained through the E-Health Seedlings Project.


Image 1: Mark Waldron (Chief Operating Officer PatientMPower), Claire Connor (Senior Physiotherapist COPD Outreach Team MRHT), Dr.Chithra Varghese (Respiratory Consultant MRHT), Cora Flynn (eHealth Director of Nursing).

Image 2: Claire Connor, Senior Physiotherapist COPD Outreach Team MRHT, COPD Patient Gretta McGlynn at home using new digital health technology

Image 3: Through this user-friendly application, patients can report daily symptoms and monitor vital health metrics