The challenge: Uptake of cardiac rehab is poor
Health services in the home and community are seen globally as a key to tackling the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases. In the case of heart disease, cardiac rehabilitation programs have been effective in preventing the recurrence of cardiac events and reducing re-admissions.
These six-week programs traditionally take the form of group-based exercise and educational activities and are designed to help patients return to an active, satisfying life. Despite these benefits, uptake of the traditional hospital or clinic-based rehabilitation programs has been poor, particularly in women and older patients.
Our response: We’ve created an online rehab program
We have developed a home-based online program (via a smartphone application or web browser) for cardiac patients known as the Care Assessment Platform (CAP). In partnership with Queensland Health, through the Australian eHealth Research Centre, we have undertaken a clinical trial of the program to compare its uptake and outcomes to the traditional cardiac rehabilitation program offered.
Rather than the patient regularly travelling to outpatient clinics for rehabilitation appointments, CAP brings the hospital rehabilitation program to the patient’s home. Patients collect clinical data such as blood pressure, and record physical activity in their own time. Core components of the program such as education, behaviour modification and psychological counselling are delivered online, and are informed by the patient’s data collection.
The results: Increasing uptake and completion for better outcomes
Our clinical trial found that cardiac patients who were offered a rehabilitation program online were far more likely to participate than those who had to travel to an outpatient clinic (80 per cent to 62 per cent). Those who used the application were more likely to adhere to the rules of the program (94 per cent to 68 per cent) and see it through to completion (80 per cent to 48 per cent).
The study demonstrates that CAP delivers the same, if not better, health outcomes as traditional rehabilitation programs, with the increased likelihood of adoption and completion. It does not replace the standard rehabilitation program, but offers a more flexible option for eligible patients and greatly minimises reliance on health centre visits.
With more than $5.5 billion spent every year on acute and chronic management of heart disease, the technology also has huge potential to reduce the burden and cost to the community.