Uptake of cardiac rehabilitation is poor
Health services in the home and community are seen globally as a key to tackling the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases – and their associated costs to the economy.
In the case of heart-related conditions such as heart disease, cardiac rehab programs can help to prevent the recurrence of cardiac events and reduce hospital re-admissions. Research has shown, for example, that heart attack survivors who complete rehabilitation are 40 per cent less likely to experience another attack.
Cardiac rehab programs traditionally take the form of group-based exercise and educational activities and are undertaken at hospitals or clinics.
Unfortunately, uptake of these programs is poor, particularly in women and older patients.
We've created an online cardiac rehabilitation platform
Our researchers at the Australian eHealth Research Centre, in partnership with Queensland Health, have developed a digital platform to support cardiac patients and their carers, providing convenient access to rehabilitation tools remotely.
The platform comprises a web portal for clinicians and a smartphone application for patients. Patients can access rehab at home with the app, rather than travel regularly to outpatient clinics.
The app delivers the core components of a cardiac rehabilitation program such as education, behaviour modification and psychological counselling, which are informed by patients’ clinical needs and information they have collected about themselves. Clinicians can access this data remotely through the web portal, improving communication around patient experiences and outcomes.
While not designed to replace a standard rehabilitation program, the platform offers a more flexible option for eligible patients and greatly minimises reliance on health centre visits.
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 platform were more likely to adhere to the guidelines of the program (94 per cent to 68 per cent) and see it through to completion (80 per cent to 48 per cent).
This study demonstrates that the online rehab program delivers the same, if not better, health outcomes as traditional rehabilitation programs, with the increased likelihood of adoption and completion.
In 2017, our cardiac rehabilitation platform was commercialised as Cardihab. This led to the establishment of the standalone company Cardihab™ Pty Ltd, which spun out from the CSIRO in 2017 after raising $1.35 million in venture capital.
Cardihab™ has been used by Australian private health insurers, clinicians and patients in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
Related to this page
- Australian eHealth Research Centre
- Smartphone-based home care model: results from a randomised controlled trial, published in Heart
- Smartphone-based cardiac rehabilitation, reported in Nature Reviews Cardiology
- Report: A digitally-enabled health system
- Heart attack app becomes science spin-out