COPD National Action Plan: Respiratory Therapists Can Make a Difference

COPD National Action Plan

The AARC is proud to submit comments on the first ever COPD National Action Plan developed by the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute (NHLBI). This landmark document is long overdue and advocated by the AARC, COPD Foundation, and many others.

The plan came together as a result of a COPD Town Hall meeting held earlier in the year with a variety of stakeholders, including health care providers, respiratory therapists, patients, patient advocates, researchers, and others.

Immediate Past President Frank Salvatore, MBA, RRT, FAARC, and House of Delegates Chair Keith Siegel, MBA, RRT, CPFT, represented the AARC at the meeting and were instrumental in contributing ideas on behalf of our profession and our patients that will foster the reduction of COPD burden on the health care system and those who suffer from COPD.

Among other things, the historic COPD National Action Plan aims to empower patients to self-manage their disease, improve access to needed therapies, encourage better research and surveillance data, and engage private and public entities and encourage them to work together.

The draft plan addresses five overall goals, with specific objectives correlated to each goal:

  1. Empower people with COPD, their families, and caregivers to recognize and reduce the burden of COPD;
  2. Promote and sustain awareness, education, and training among health care professionals to increase COPD prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, and management;
  3. Collect, analyze, disseminate, and report COPD-related public health data that drives change and tracks progress;
  4. Increase and sustain research to better understand prevention, pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and management of COPD;
  5. Integrate recommended national policy, educational, and program changes into the legislative, research, public health, and care delivery structures.

“This document encompasses many facets where respiratory therapists will be crucial to its success,” says AARC President Brian Walsh, PhD, RRT-NPS, RRT-ACCS, AE-C, RPFT, FAARC. “The value that respiratory therapists bring to this far-reaching endeavor is evident in our comments, but to achieve the goals set forth in the plan, it will be critical for respiratory therapists to become early adopters of the plan and to get it into their practices at the sites of care where they work.”

Following the public comment period, which ends Oct. 28, the NHLBI will compile a final COPD National Action Plan to include information about the disease and additional resources. The final plan will be available on the AARC website when it becomes available.