The UK Met Office developed Healthy Outlook in 2007 in order to help patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) manage their condition and avoid hospital admissions. It involves a forecasting model to predict when the outdoor environment is likely to adversely affect the health of COPD patients, and to issue telephone alerts when there is an increased risk. The service was provided to patients by a number of Primary Care Trusts (now Clinical Commissioning Groups) who chose to provide it in their local area.
PIRU was asked to evaluate the extent to which Healthy Outlook reduced hospital admissions and mortality.
The evaluation studied the history of Healthy Outlook patients in terms of their number of emergency and elective admissions, outpatient appointments and deaths. They were compared with matched control patients who met the same eligibility criteria but whose general practice did not offer Healthy Outlook. Using routinely collected Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) and mortality data, the groups were compared for hospital use and mortality over 12 months following recruitment into Healthy Outlook and over 7, 14 and 28 days after alerts were issued. Although Healthy Outlook did not reduce admission rates, patients enrolled in Healthy Outlook had lower mortality rates than the matched control group.
The results were published in the Journal of Public Health in July 2014.
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