The abnormal widening of the bronchi in people diagnosed with Bronchiectasis (BE) presents an ideal environment for bacteria to settle and grow into a serious lung infection; requiring one or more courses of antibiotics. Complicating matters is the fact that a successful diagnosis can take 2-3 years – or longer — as the disease is often misdiagnosed as emphysema or chronic bronchitis in the fast-paced, high turnover primary care setting. Even after referral to a pulmonary care specialist and the correct BE diagnosis is made, these patients often revert back to their primary care physicians and entrust them with monitoring disease progression. Unfortunately, the large majority of primary care offices do not offer access to a Respiratory Therapy specialist who would be able to outline a daily care routine involving medical and non-medical treatments — including airway clearance techniques — to improve overall lung function. There are a variety of evidence-based airway clearance techniques that facilitate the movement of secretions out of the lungs to improve breathing and optimize the deposition of inhaled therapies. Chest percussion, positive expiratory pressure (PEP) devices and postural drainage are a few of the common modalities. However, in recent years, the wearable high frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO) devices have spiked in popularity. These wearable “vests” use battery or electronic power and offer focused chest and back percussion to loosen mucus so it can be more easily coughed up.
Airway clearance techniques are beneficial for millions of patients dealing with COPD — in addition to the smaller populations of patients with BE, cystic fibrosis (CF) and amytotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Consequently, a number of companies have developed “vest” products and new, value-added features (e.g. Bluetooth-enabled usage monitoring) are being added in an attempt to differentiate. While large medical device manufacturers have used existing relationships to drive large market share, smaller niche players have emerged offering unique products with desirable features such as portability and smaller vest sizes appropriate for the youngest patients. “AIM for BE” was designed to provide support to a broad-based, national community of primary care clinicians and allied professionals, impart a clear understanding for how BE presents in the clinical setting, and tactfully introduce a new portable vest product. In partnership with a KOL-level physician and prolific BE researcher, a virtual “speaker program” was developed to drive awareness around common BE clinical characteristics and identify clinician “hand raisers” who might be interested in learning more.
During the initial AIM for BE Pilot Phase, the virtual speaker program was accessed hundreds of times, a sizable database of customer leads was collected and a verified ROI of 14:1 was returned. The program is begin considered for the broader national rollout.