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A new system will make it possible for patients with chronic respiratory diseases to do high-quality forced vital capacity spirometry tests at primary care centers in Catalonia and have the results added to their medical history automatically. This will allow for better control of the evolution of their lung function and, in the middle term, a drop in patients being referred to hospitals. The new spirometry program has been led by the NEXTCARE consortium with collaboration from the Catalan Ministry of Health eHealth Office, Institut Català de la Salut (ICS), Eurecat and Hospital Clinic Barcelona under the framework of NEXTHEALTH, the RIS3CAT community in health led by Biocat, promoted by ACCIÓ and funded by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Forced vital capacity spirometry measures a patient’s lung capacity and exhale speed. For the test, patients blow air out as hard and fast as they can after taking the deepest breath possible. Forced vital capacity spirometry is one of the most frequently used diagnostic tools for chronic respiratory diseases (like asthma and COPD).

Until now, the test was done and/or interpreted at primary care centers, but quality control had to be done manually and the results of the test weren’t added to the patient’s medical history automatically. This has led to a very mixed bag in terms of how useful spirometry has been and in many cases ended up with patients being referred to hospitals. The new program will give primary care professionals a greater ability to resolve the issue and optimize their collaboration with respiratory specialists.


Innovation ‘Made in Catalonia’ to export to other healthcare systems

The new spirometry program includes software and a standardized document that significantly improve on the quality and interpretation of the test. The new system also facilitates evaluation of any one patient’s evolution over time regardless of where the tests were done.

This way, the capacity of primary care professionals to resolve issues with these patients improves notably, saving hospital visits. When there are doubts as to how to interpret the results, hospital specialists can look at the patient’s report in their e-health history, without having to be present. The specialist can look at the whole history of spirometry tests the patient has taken and use this information to make decisions.

The various aspects of the new program have been assessed in several studies published in scientific journals. The potential to transfer the initiative has been analyzed over 6 months at CAP Numancia in the Institut Català de la Salut, in Barcelona. In January 2018, the program began its rollout throughout Catalonia, which also assessed acceptance among professionals and impact on the healthcare system.

“After presenting it at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) congress in London, there are high hopes regarding the new system among international scientific societies, with notable prospects for rolling it out in healthcare systems around the world,” highlights Felip Burgos, PhD in Medicine and nurse at Hospital Clinic-IDIBAPS. The new method opens the doors to creating predictive models for more personalized care of chronic respiratory patients.


Biocat and the RIS3CAT communities

The RIS3CAT communities are a pioneering strategy in Europe aimed at transforming the business fabric in Catalonia through 2020. The initiative is the practical application of the RIS3CAT Strategy for the Smart Specialization of Catalonia, approved by the Government of Catalonia in 2014 in response to the European Union directives associated with the Europe 2020 strategy. In this regard, Biocat coordinates the NEXTHEALTH community: Multidisciplinary solutions for the coming challenges in health in order to address the main challenges in health today. 


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