COPD Screening in Primary Care is Key to Early, Accurate Diagnosis

By Tom Schwieterman, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Clinical Affairs


According to the American Lung Association, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death by disease in the United States. The good news is that if identified early, there are many effective therapeutic options that reduce the burden of the disease for patients.


A study that appeared in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine describes several challenges for clinicians when assessing and intervening chronic lung disease. Based on their findings, the authors of the study estimate that approximately 70% of COPD cases worldwide may be underdiagnosed, while between 30% and 60% of patients who have been diagnosed with COPD do not actually have the disease.  


To make matters worse, COVID-19 has impacted many patients with additional health consequence related to lung function that can mimic lung pathology found in COPD. And not all primary care facilities have the capability to perform spirometry effectively in their clinical setting. In fact, a significant percentage of primary care physicians do not own a spirometer. Spirometry remains the most effective method for staging and assessing patients with COPD. Most experts consider it an essential component of effective management. However, even when care settings have the equipment, there can often be a lack of standardization on how best to incorporate the testing into workflows and properly interpret the results.


Given the importance of proper COPD testing in primary care settings as a way to accurately diagnose the disease in its early stages, Midmark developed a learning program to help its medical sales team better understand the emotional and clinical journey of a COPD patient. The program also teaches them how to help clinicians understand how to incorporate spirometry testing into their daily practices with the goal of improving early detection of the disease.


Designed by the Midmark professional education team, the learning program takes a blended approach that features a number of informative and interactive components, including video, e-learning modules, live presentation, Q&A session, hands-on training and gamification modules. Midmark partnered with Harbinger Interactive Learning to develop the gamification portion of the program, which presented a day in the life of a COPD patient where the learner had to make decisions on how to deal with the impact of COPD in daily activities. 


The learning program recently earned a 2021 Excellence Award from the Brandon Hall Group, which recognizes the best organizations that have successfully deployed programs, strategies, and tools that have achieved measurable results.


Based on feedback, the learning program seems to be accomplishing its goal. Our Midmark teammates are grateful that they now understand the journey of a COPD patient, and our customers appreciate that we are helping them understand how best to integrate spirometers into their facilities and workflows to ensure a better care experience and better patient outcomes.


For more information on the Midmark Digital Spirometer, visit