Clinical guidelines recommend that patients complete a cardiac rehabilitation program after experiencing a myocardial infarction, with studies showing that those who do have much better long-term health outcomes.
Despite the benefits, uptake of traditional cardiac rehabilitation programs is poor. Many patients find weekly travel to a health facility to be difficult. This is particularly so for those who work, care for others or live in regional Australia where these services are not available.
To overcome this problem, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Queensland Health have developed a home-based cardiac rehabilitation program delivered via a smartphone app, called the Care Assessment Platform. This home-based program features health and exercise tools, motivational materials and multimedia delivered through the app to educate patients about disease management, and remote mentoring consultations.
A clinical trial conducted through the Australian e-Health Research Centre showed that this delivery model achieved equal or better clinical outcomes compared with a traditional rehabilitation program (Heart 2014; 100: 1770-1779). Patients recovering from myocardial infarctions were almost 30% more likely to take part in rehabilitation at home using the smartphone app, compared with those who had to travel to an outpatient clinic. Patients were also 40% more likely to adhere to the rules of the program and almost 70% more likely to complete it than those in traditional rehabilitation programs.
Most importantly, this delivery model offers a more flexible option. By integrating rehabilitation into patients' daily lives, they are more likely to complete the program and make the healthy changes to their lifestyle permanent. This overcomes one of the key barriers to patient participation and recovery.
The Care Assessment Platform will soon be offered in several Queensland hospitals. The research team is also looking to adapt the technology for use with other chronic conditions, such as pulmonary disease and diabetes.
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