Assessing the impact of COVID-19 measures on COPD management and patients: A simulation-based decision support tool for COPD services in the UK

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Objectives To develop a computer-based decision support tool (DST) for key decision makers to safely explore the impact on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) care of service changes driven by restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Design The DST is powered by discrete event simulation which captures the entire patient pathway. To estimate the number of COPD admissions under different scenario settings, a regression model was developed and embedded into the tool. The tool can generate a wide range of patient-related and service-related outputs. Thus, the likely impact of possible changes (eg, COVID-19 restrictions and pandemic scenarios) on patients with COPD and care can be estimated. 

Setting COPD services (including outpatient and inpatient departments) at a major provider in central London. 

Results Four different scenarios (reflecting the UK government's Plan A, Plan B and Plan C in addition to a benchmark scenario) were run for 1 year. 856, 616 and 484 face-to-face appointments (among 1226 clinic visits) are expected in Plans A, B and C, respectively. Clinic visit quality in Plan A is found to be marginally better than in Plans B and C. Under coronavirus restrictions, lung function tests decreased more than 80% in Plan C as compared with Plan A. Fewer COPD exacerbation-related admissions were seen (284.1 Plan C vs 395.1 in the benchmark) associated with stricter restrictions. Although the results indicate that fewer quality-adjusted life years (in terms of COPD management) would be lost during more severe restrictions, the wider impact on physical and mental health must also be established. 

Conclusions This DST will enable COPD services to examine how the latest developments in care delivery and management might impact their service during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the event of future pandemics.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere062305
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number10
Early online date7 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2022


  • simulation
  • COVID-19
  • COPD
  • QALYs
  • patient outcomes
  • Decision support system
  • health policy
  • chronic airways disease
  • respiratory medicine (see thoracic medicine)
  • respiratory infections
  • Pandemics
  • Humans
  • United Kingdom/epidemiology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive/complications
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Quality of Life


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