One physio’s journey from clinical respiratory lead to adviser on the digital self-management of long-term conditions

Jane Stokes believes she is one of the first CSP members to have taken on the role of physiotherapy lead with a mobile health applications developer.


Formerly an NHS clinical lead for respiratory services in Essex, in February 2018 she moved to my mhealth. The UK company develops apps and other mobile services for people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes and heart disease.

‘In my previous role I saw the potential of digital platforms for chronic disease self-management,’ she said. This was when she was responsible for implementing the MyCOPD app, produced by the company she now works for, into community services.


The app provides COPD patients with interactive advice and exercises to help them self-manage their conditions.

‘The app was used by North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group under the government’s Innovation and Technology Tariff, which enables funding for 20 per cent of the local population with moderate to severe COPD to have access to a MyCOPD licence.’ said Ms Stokes.

Enthused by her experience of working with MyCOPD, Ms Stokes approached the company to offer her clinical skills and is now developing the rehabilitation elements of my mhealth’s suite of platforms to manage long-term conditions.

Demand pressures

‘Digital solutions can help services to cope better with demand pressures,’ she said. ‘With my background in cardiac and respiratory physiotherapy, I am really enjoying speaking with clinicians about where these touchpoints are and how apps can enhance services.’

According to Ms Stokes, MyCOPD is the only NHS Digital-approved tool and is part of the NHS Innovation Accelerator programme, which supports delivery of the Five Year Forward View by accelerating uptake of high-impact innovations to benefit patients, NHS staff and the general population.

So far, the app has been taken up by 55 clinical commissioning groups, said Ms Stokes.

Resistance to change

She does come across resistance to using digital technologies, however, because this means big changes for some services.

‘There are valid questions about how patients can use these technologies safely,’ she said. ‘But the apps all have built-in risk assessments and the patients take responsibility for answering safety questions honestly and following the online advice.

‘While these technologies are recommended to patients by their clinicians, we have the ability to screen who actually gets access to the apps.’

Data security

On data security, Ms Stokes said that my mhealth complies with information governance regulations required by the NHS nationally.

‘I feel that these apps offer massive opportunities to enhance and support the management of long-term conditions,’ she said.

‘And I believe this could lead to greater patient empowerment and better use of healthcare resources.’

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