Cardiac patients trial home-based rehabilitation

Patients who have been treated in hospital for cardiac health problems, such as a heart attack, are being given a powerful new option to help set them on the path to good health.

28 April 2009

CSIRO's Australian E-Health Research Centre (AEHRC) and Queensland Health are reinventing cardiac rehabilitation programs by using mobile phone and web technology that will allow patients to undergo healthy lifestyle programs at home and still receive the appropriate medical support.

AEHRC Chief Executive Officer, Dr Phil Gurney, said patients used the mobile phones to measure physiological data, such as the number of steps taken, and make their online wellness diary entries.

"Daily motivational and educational text messages are sent by phone and mentors set personalised goals at weekly phone or video conferences," Dr Gurney said.

Currently less than 20 per cent of people who have been treated in hospital for a cardiac event complete the standard six-week outpatient rehabilitation program.

Brisbane's Prince Charles Hospital Director of Cardiology, Associate Professor Darren Walters, said preventing further cardiac events in patients is as important as treating the initial acute heart attack.

"The advantage of this technology is that it is personalised, accessible and has been widely adopted by Australians from all walks of life," Professor Walters said.

"It's a novel approach that could provide a better option for the delivery of cardiac rehabilitation for a significant proportion of patients."

Dr Gurney said the AEHRC is using modern communications technology as a broad care-assessment platform that could be easily adaptable to the home-based management of other chronic diseases.

The cardiac rehabilitation system is currently being trialled with patients from the Metro North Health Service District (HSD) Primary and Community Health Services Program in conjunction with the Prince Charles, Redcliffe and Caboolture Hospitals.

Metro North HSD Manager Rehabilitation and Consultation Services, Anita Fairfull, said the use of everyday technology may result in improved access, so that patients are more likely to complete their cardiac rehabilitation program.

The Australian e-Health Research Centre is a leading national research facility for health care innovations in information and communication technologies. It is a joint venture between CSIRO and the Queensland Government.

Download images at: Cardiac patients trial home-based rehabilitation.

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