Australian state tests home-based rehab for heart patients

Seeking to improve a dismal compliance rate for cardiac rehabilitation, the Australian state of Queensland is testing web- and mobile phone-based technologies to help patients make lifestyle changes and receive follow-up medical support.

According to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which is working with Queensland Health on the project, participating patients receive daily text messages with motivational and educational messages, and work with mentors in weekly phone or video conferences to set personal goals for improvement. They also can send physiological data via mobile phones, and keep online wellness diaries as they work to prevent additional heart problems.

"The advantage of this technology is that it is personalized, accessible and has been widely adopted by Australians from all walks of life," Dr. Darren Walters, director of cardiology at Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane, Queensland, said in a statement. "It's a novel approach that could provide a better option for the delivery of cardiac rehabilitation for a significant proportion of patients."

CSIRO's Australian E-Health Research Centre says that fewer than 20 percent of people hospitalized for cardiac events in Queensland complete the standard six-week outpatient rehab program.

For more on this program:
read the CSIRO press release