Prof. Bülent Karadağ, one of Turkey’s leading specialists in Pediatric Pulmonary Disease and a member of the European Respiratory Society which awarded him education and research scholarships, has trained and practiced in some of the most prestigious schools and clinics in the world. He is particularly interested in pediatric asthma and cystic fibrosis.
My cystic fibrosis patients in particular are worried about COVID-19 exposure
We asked Prof. Bülent Karadağ about the impact COVID-19 has had on his patients. Prof. Karadağ explains, ‘There are 2 groups of patients I am seeing at the moment, asthmatic children and those suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF). Asthma patients have relatively stable pulmonary function test (PFT) results, but PFTs of CF patients can vary more frequently, and this is the group that is most worried about the current COVID-19 situation’. He adds, ‘For those CF patients who want to avoid exposure at all costs and stay at home, we provide medical reports for their employers to consider’.
Stay at home, that is our message
We also asked Prof. Karadağ about the challenges of comforting patients perplexed by the possibility of COVID-19 infection. ‘There are currently no global reports stating CF patients, particularly pediatric ones, are targeted by the virus. We assume that children are affected less by this virus due to the fact that the cytokine storm produced by the adult immune system is absent in children. However, we are still precautious as we presume that should complications occur in a CF patient, particularly those over the age of 10, consequences would be greater. We are therefore following national guidelines and asking people to stay at home.
The future is home spirometry
Prof. Karadağ believes that the future of monitoring lung function in chronic respiratory patients lies with home spirometry solutions such as the Spirohome Personal. ‘Even with the current restrictions and recommendations for extra vigilance both patients and healthcare professionals are reluctant to perform pulmonary functions tests in clinical settings for the fear of COVID-19 exposure. It is therefore a good time to shift towards home spirometry and Spirohome Personal offers a fantastic platform for this’, he explains. He also adds, ‘During this pandemic CF patients, followed by asthma patients, need to be monitored more frequently for early detection decline’.
There is definitely a shift towards telehealth, but cost is important
We were also interested in what Prof.Karadağ thought were the main barriers to home spirometry. He states, ‘There is definitely a shift towards telehealth, and particular interest by younger patients. Sometimes my patients text me their symptoms and ask for advice, but I need objective data about their current health status to make any clinical recommendation. Digital health solutions are therefore needed but they also need to be cost-effective for healthcare systems to provide or be reimbursed otherwise. There is no doubt, however, that products such as Spirohome Personal will decrease overall healthcare costs in the long run.’
Bülent Karadağ, MD
Professor of Pediatric Health and Diseases