Inmaculada Aban.

Inmaculada Aban, PhD, Professor of Biostatistics has been awarded a U24 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to serve as the Data Coordinating Center for a randomized trial that investigates whether the re-hospitalization of COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, patients can be reduced by optimizing the use of telemedicine interventions through Pulmonary Rehabilitation centers.

COPD patients are often re-hospitalized for an exacerbation of their disease. Given that re-hospitalization within 30 days is a metric for which hospitals are penalized, and patients on average live between 8-30 miles from their provider, there is mutual interest both from providers and patients to find a solution to reduce re-hospitalizations and increase the health of COPD patients.

In addition to the distance that patients are asked to travel back to their provider for rehabilitation, even when it is available, other factors are prohibiting equal access to necessary pulmonary care for patients with COPD. According to published research, pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is remarkably effective, and is associated with an 80% reduction in admission rates, but, only one pulmonary rehabilitation center exists for every 6,607 individuals experiencing COPD. The multiple socioeconomic and medical barriers, including these, hinder access to PR centers and therefore contribute to high drop-out rates from care.

This study seeks to demonstrate that a solution to an increase in the utilization of Pulmonary Rehabilitation care and a reduction of re-hospitalizations can be found by offering interventions from PR centers via telemedicine. Telehealth appointments are more affordable and accessible to a greater patient-base, including those who have issues with transportation, or those who live in rural communities that lack facilities, and individuals may be more comfortable with telehealth appointments following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tele-COPD (Video Telehealth Pulmonary Rehabilitation to Reduce Hospital Readmission in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) study consists of two separate grants, the Clinical Coordinating Center (CCC): UG3 grant, under the leadership of Principal Investigator, Dr. Surya Bhatt, of the UAB Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, and the Data Coordinating Center (DCC): U24 Grant, under the leadership of Dr. Aban, with personnel support from the Department of Biostatistics including Co-Investigator Gary Cutter, PhD, Professor Emeritus; Robin Parks, Program Manager; Kalyani Peri, MS, Data Manager and Biostatistician; and Ebi Agberebi, Programmer II.

This data coordination of another national study awarded to the Department of Biostatistics continues the UAB School of Public Health’s’ role and responsibility in local, national, and international studies, as well as clinical trials. This 6-year grant includes $11.9 million in funding between the data coordinating center and the clinical coordinating center, further supporting the strength that collaborative efforts between the UAB Heersink School of Medicine and the UAB School of Public Health bring to both UAB and to science.

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