IHE News

News Release: Every Breath Matters: The Cost of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in Alberta

The Institute of Health Economics releases the Economic Report, The Economic Surveillance for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in Alberta.

Policy leaders and COPD specialists recently gathered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in conjunction with the 2016 Canadian Respiratory Conference, to discuss the findings of the Institute of Health Economics’ newly released report, The Economic Surveillance for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in Alberta. The report addressed a gap in health economic information that is used for healthcare decision making. The purpose of the report was to identify potential and actual users of health services and the costs generated at various points along the COPD disease spectrum, from prevention to late stage. Among the services identified were public health and health promotion, screening and diagnosis of high risk persons, and diagnosed persons at various stages of the disease. The report included public health services, hospital and emergency care, pharmaceuticals, physician services, rehabilitation and community oxygen services.

The report concluded that total identified expenditures on COPD in Alberta are approximately $255 million per year. These expenditures were highly skewed towards services that are associated with late-stage COPD, notably hospitalization ($130 million), emergency department visits ($19.5 million), and home oxygen therapy ($27 million).

PDF of the above image:  IHE Alberta COPD Economic Surveillance Infographic

“Our analysis suggests that early-stage care is likely to be underfunded, as very few services are provided in the form of COPD programs in primary care and pulmonary rehabilitation,” said Dr. Phillip Jacobs, Director of Research Collaborations at the Institute of Health Economics. “Furthermore, little documentation is made in terms of smoking cessation program cost and utilization; however, it appears that some important services are in fact available but are underutilized.”

“The Economic Surveillance Report raised some very important findings around the costs and cost pressures associated with COPD care. This report reaffirms the need to increase support for smoking prevention and cessation initiatives. If more support was given to these programs, not only would end-of-life costs and pressures on the health care system be further alleviated, but the quality of life for those who would have otherwise suffered from this debilitating disease would also be greatly impacted.” – Peter Glazier, Vice-President, Marketing, Communications and Development, The Lung Association (Ontario).

This report comes following several consultations, including The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Care Canada Policy Workshop that occurred last November. The workshop was videotaped and can be viewed on the IHE website. The information from the economic report and aforementioned workshop will help to inform a COPD Policy Framework White Paper, to be circulated in spring 2016.

“The findings from the Economic Surveillance Report demonstrate that there are gaps in care for COPD patients and the need for more support in the later stages of COPD,” said Richard Mole, President and CEO, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd. “In particular, these results call out the need for patient support measures to be implemented that focus on reducing exacerbations and hospital visits for patients, combined with new innovations in therapy to help address these gaps.”

The Economic Report – The Economic Surveillance for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in Alberta – and The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Care Canada Policy Workshop were supported, financially and/or in-kind, by the Institute of Health Economics, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd., and the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI).


Jasmine Brown, Institute of Health Economics
office: (780) 448-4881 | cell: (780) 966-4879
[email protected]


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a respiratory condition that is primarily caused by smoking, and is characterized by progressive, airflow obstruction that is not fully reversible (CTS Society). The condition cannot be cured, but can be managed through medical and non-medical interventions.

For more information about this workshop, please visit the following webpage:

COPD Economic Issues Policy Workshop.