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What is the Philadelphia COPD Initiative?
Did you know that Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of over 133,000 people in 2010 alone?

In 2003, COPD was responsible for 15.4 million physician office and outpatient visits.  The total estimated cost of COPD in 2010 was $49.9 billion.

According to the Pennsylvania Medical Society, Pennsylvania has the sixth-highest COPD death rate in the U.S.  There is a strong association between poverty and COPD.  The disease occurs more often in areas of socio-economic deprivation, and lower family income is associated with increased mortality risk.  The rates of cigarette smoking are frequently highest among African American demographics compared to similar Caucasian groups, with rates of COPD-related emergency room visits consistently highest for African Americans.

Philadelphia is a unique community, with a diverse population, a high tobacco use prevalence, and pockets of socio-economic deprivation.  This combination makes COPD care an urgent public health priority for our city.

The Philadelphia COPD Initiative is a group of like-minded people who have come together around the goal of reducing the suffering caused by COPD in our community through a commitment to quality care.

What are the goals of the phillyCOPD.com website?
When we look back on our experience with this illness, it’s not hard to imagine why people can get so discouraged by COPD.

Perhaps one or more of these practical realities ring true for you?

  • We learn the most from our last patient – It’s easy to remember the last person with severe lung disease who walked into your office smelling of tobacco smoke.  It’s harder to remember the hundreds of little ways you have helped those same smokers move closer to quitting over the years.
  • It’s hard to worry about the future when you’re surrounded by fires that need to be put out now– No matter how important the long-term goals of COPD care really are to you, there always seems to be some short-term concern that exerts its priority.
  • A person has to be ready to stop smoking before we can help – Sometimes it feels like dealing with a smoker who is reluctant to quit is so very different from the services that you routinely provide.  It’s natural to worry that pushing too hard today might ruin your relationship with your patients in the future.
  • First, do no harm – Because COPD is often accompanied by other chronic illness that themselves require a good bit of patient involvement, it makes sense to keep our interventions as uncomplicated as possible.

Given these realities, how does a person apply evidence derived from populations to the individual right in front of them?

The goal of the Philadelphia COPD Initiative is to create a simple-to-use resource that can help physicians and patients increase their effectiveness in managing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.  Our objective is to create a repository of straightforward insights that can help clinicians deal with the four important practical realities of COPD listed above, realities that are not traditionally reflected in established COPD guidelines.

phillyCOPD.com attempts to help practicing clinicians translate available COPD guidelines into real world, problem solving guidance.

phillyCOPD.com provides a place where members of the medical community can reframe the practical realities of COPD care, turning obstacles into opportunities.  For example:

  • We learn the most from our last patient – Practical tips make it easier to understand the source of your patient’s reluctance.  Once we know why they’re reluctant, it becomes a snap to develop a strategy for dealing with the issues.  Learning from your last patient’s reluctance becomes an opportunity to get better at managing you next patient’s reluctance.
  • It’s hard to worry about the future when you’re surrounded by fires that need to be put out now– Sometimes it feels like the people who write guidelines expect everyone to do everything at every visit.  We recognize that’s not realistic.  By breaking the issues of COPD care down into their most relevant components, phillyCOPD.com can help you maximize the impact of the time spent on COPD care – making what you can do for your patient within a typical visit much closer to what you would like to do for your patient in that visit.
  • A person has to be ready to stop smoking before we can help – As it turns out, you’re already an expert at helping people understand difficult concepts, overcoming their natural fears, and guiding them toward successful conclusions.  phillyCOPD.com highlights the ways in which the techniques you apply to general care issues everyday can be used to maximize your effectiveness with COPD care.
  • First, do no harm – Keep it simple, keep it straightforward, but keep it effective.  The Philadelphia COPD Initiative is about sharing ideas with each other that can help keep practical strategies effective – and keep effective strategies practical.

What’s the approach?
The Philadelphia COPD Initiative uses a series of web-based methods to help improve COPD outcomes in primary care.  The core function of the website is to consolidate the volumes of available guideline information and recommendations into several quick references, each with immediate relevance to everyday practice needs.

In addition to the educational resources for clinicians, phillyCOPD.com provides:

  • A clinical problem solver – A series of common problems faced in the office, with easy links to the relevant material to help you overcome them.
  • A virtual consultationContact us directly with your questions or search the list of Frequently Asked Questions to see what issues your colleagues are dealing with, and how they’ve addressed them most effectively.  Philadelphia is a city with a rich medical community – why not take advantage of the numbers and float your question to the wide pool of doctors right in your backyard.  Posts are kept anonymous to protect doctor-patient confidentiality.
  • A reference list – to help you stay current with the literature that has formed the basis of guideline recommendations to this point.