Referral rates for pulmonary rehab remain extremely low for COPD patients, despite the therapy being Medicare-covered.
In an assessment of patients immediately following hospitalization for COPD and for the year thereafter, investigators found that only 1.9% of patients that were eligible for pulmonary rehabilitation were enrolled within 6 months. By 12 months, that rate only increased to 2.7%.
Pulmonary rehab is a program of exercise and education that is proven to increase exercise capacity, reduce symptoms, and elevate quality of life for patients. The program is recommended in all major professional society guidelines in the US, Europe, and Canada. Historically, patients with stable COPD were encouraged to enroll in pulmonary rehab.