The Australian recently highlighted how Medibank is using Cardihab's remote digital cardiac rehabilitation solution to enable more people to access cardiac rehab during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Medibank’s cardiac rehabilitation program is experiencing an increase in patient referrals during COVID-19. Cardihab allows them to provide personalised remotely delivered one to one support to help prevent a second serious cardiac event.
The Medibank Heart Health at Home program is one of the first personalised, fully telehealth-delivered cardiac rehabilitation services in Australia, making it more easily accessible to our customers.
Patients with a chronic health condition have a higher risk of suffering more severe symptoms if they contract COVID-19, so access to care in their home is crucial.
The Australian featured the story of 71-year-old Allen Parsons, who lives just outside the Queensland regional town of Toowoomba, had his second heart attack in March. He underwent surgery to have stents inserted in his arteries.
Mr Parsons was referred by his local hospital to the Heart Health at Home program to assist in his recovery.
“I didn’t fit the normal heart attack mould as I am active, not overweight and don’t drink much alcohol, but I wanted to ensure I gave myself the best chance to prevent a third heart attack,” he said.
“The program has been a helpful tool in my recovery, with my nurse providing me with advice and support on changes I need to make to my diet and exercise that will help to strengthen my heart muscles following the surgery.
“It has given me the flexibility to participate in the program because no matter whether I am working in Brisbane or a regional town, it is delivered remotely over the telephone at a time that suits me.”
Cardiovascular disease is currently the nation’s leading cause of death, with an estimated 1 in 6 Australians living with the disease.
The cardiac rehabilitation rate for Medibank’s rural customers is less than half that of those who live in metro areas.
Cardihab CEO Helen Souris said Cardihab was very proud to be able to support continuity of cardiac rehabilitation services during COVID restrictions and beyond.
"Cardiac rehabilitation has the potential to significantly reduce the occurrence future cardiac events. As many cardiac patients are currently not able to access traditional cardiac rehabilitation programs, and/or afraid to seek medical advice due to fear of COVID exposure, clinically proven remote programs like Cardihab can make a demonstrable difference to patients and deliver improved outcomes."
Cardihab will help researchers understand the risk of COVID-19 infection and isolation for people with reduced heart function as part of a project to be undertaken at an innovative new COVID-19 rapid response research centre.
The Wesley Medical Research virtual COVID-19 Rapid Response Research Centre aims to support the global community to fast-track answers to overcome COVID-19. The centre had its official opening last week.
Cardihab’s digital health platform will be used in one of the first research studies conducted by the Centre. This piece of research, led by Dr John Rivers, will examine the impact of COVID-19 infection and isolation on patients with reduced heart function.
At-risk cardiovascular patients are among the many vulnerable people who are isolating to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. These same people are inadvertently potentially exposing themselves to a new set of risks by the very process of isolation; reduced medical care, missing routine medical appointments, inactivity and weight gain as well as poor control of hypertension and other comorbidities.
Dr Rivers explained that while the COVID-19 risk is high, chronic heart conditions remain the major cause of death in Australia and globally. Looking after these patients therefore should remain a priority and this project hopes to improve their care during the pandemic.
“We need to balance the requirements of protecting those people from the virus with the risks of protection itself,” Dr Rivers said.
The study aims to assess whether a digitally-enabled management strategy provides improved outcomes when compared with conventional care in a cohort of Left Ventricular Dysfunction (LVD) patients who are infected with, or isolating to avoid, COVID-19 infection. It is likely those with LVD or heart failure who become infected with COVID-19 will see a deterioration of left ventricular function.
This study will use Cardihab’s clinically validated digital model of care to enable physicians to care for patients with impaired heart function remotely. Using the Cardihab app via smart phone devices and the secure clinician portal, physicians will be able to assess whether this model of care improves outcomes for those at-risk patients in terms of heart failure readmissions, deterioration of symptoms and their condition. Quality of life and mental health status will also be assessed in this study.
The transition from conventional care to models incorporating digital healthcare delivery has been accelerated as a result of COVID-19 and this change is likely to be sustained in the way chronic diseases are managed in the future.
“The impact of isolation and COVID-19 has given us the chance to reconsider how we deliver healthcare in the future, to a model which is more patient centred, user friendly for the consumer, and enables better outcomes,” Dr Rivers said.
The use of evidence-based digital health technologies is set to become the new standard in chronic disease management. Helen Souris, Cardihab CEO welcomes the technology transformation currently taking place in the healthcare sector and is an advocate for establishing evidence-based digital health technologies as a standard of care.
“We are proud to collaborate with Wesley Medical Research and Dr Rivers to enable a better understanding the benefits of technology in managing patients with chronic heart conditions affected by COVID-19 and isolation,” Ms Souris said.
One of the outcomes from the COVID pandemic is the fast-tracked adoption of technology to care for and triage patients through the healthcare system. But still, questions remain about the role of age in identifying patients who can benefit from these new ways of delivering patient care.
Telehealth and digital health platform usage surged as traditional models of care were either restricted or abruptly ceased to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Cardiac rehabilitation services across Australia were among those that were significantly disrupted, resulting in many clinics seeking to introduce remote models of care, frequently including digital solutions such as the Cardihab platform.
Cardiac rehabilitation is recommended for any patient who has an acute cardiac event, generally the result of cardiovascular disease (CVD). While not exclusively a condition for people over the age of 45, the vast majority of Australians with CVD fall into the age groups of 65-74 (30% of CVD patients) and 75+ (32.5%). Therefore, chronic CVD and cardiac rehabilitation patients might not be the first clinical population thought of as suitable users of digital health apps.
However, recent data from 200 patients enrolled in Cardihab's digital cardiac rehabilitation program suggests that age might not be as clear cut a factor when deciding who to prescribe digital health programs. Data from our real-world experience has shown that 59% of our patient users are aged over 60, with those aged between 70 and 80 representing the largest patient group (31% of users).
In the Cardihab context, a patient is referred and enrolled in a digital cardiac rehabilitation program by a Healthcare professional (HCP). Their prescribed program is delivered via the Cardihab app and supervised throughout the course of their program by a qualified HCP. While it is feasible that user age in our sample is influenced by the demographics of the HCP’s patient population, this is an important insight into the potential user age differences that might be observed between a prescribed and clinically guided digital health app like Cardihab vs a freely available consumer self-help app.
What is becoming clearer as the collective evidence grows, is that technology access and literacy are important pre-requisites for using digital health platforms. In particular, technology literacy is an important factor for determining which patients would be suitable for digital health apps. From our experience, these 3 simple questions provide adequate insight into a person's tech literacy to enable a decision as to whether to prescribe digital health app to a patient or not.
- Do they have a smart phone? Yes/No
- Do they currently use apps for general living? Yes/No
- If so how often?
Patients that use apps at least weekly are likely to have the aptitude to use digital health apps efficiently and effectively. We therefore encourage HCPs to consider asking these simple tech literacy questions before ruling someone out of a digital health app.
While there is still much to learn about the use of digital health apps in the management of chronic cardiovascular disease, we are encouraged by our observations on the age of patients enrolled in our digital program. We look forward to contributing further insight as our real-world experience grows and as digital health apps take their place as an important option for chronic disease management.
We recognise that many centre-based cardiac rehabilitation services have been disrupted in response to mechanisms deployed to manage and contain the spread of COVID-19.
As a clinically proven model of care that enables the remote provision of cardiac rehabilitation to patients in their home, we are keen to work with the network of providers to support the continuity of care for patients throughout this time.
The Cardihab model enables staff to work from home, as well as patients receiving care from home, thereby reducing the risk of contamination and spread.
Remote cardiac rehabilitation may be accessible under Medicare via the Federal Government’s COVID-19 health package.
If you have concerns around the continuity and access to cardiac rehabilitation that you think we could assist with, please contact us.
David Burt, CSIRO‘s Executive Manager ON Innovation Program, was recently interviewed in Business Insider about some of the health-related startups coming out of scientific research in Australia, including Cardihab.
Cardihab’s Digital Cardiac Rehabilitation platform was scientifically validated in a world first, randomised controlled trial (RCT) by researchers from CSIRO and The Prince Charles Hospital via the Australian E-Health Research Centre. The ON Accelerator program was an important step in commercialisation as it provided an opportunity to pursue customer and investor interest in the research.
If you’re a founder looking to launch your health-related startup, the ON Innovation Program could be for you.
Cardihab has been recognised as one of the leading digital health platforms emerging in Australia in the November 2017 issue of the Qantas Spirit of Australia magazine.
The QBusiness section feature article describes how Cardihab’s evidence-based cardiac rehabilitation product was developed from world-first research conducted in Queensland by the Australian E-Health Research Centre. Cardihab then completed the CSIRO ON and HCF Catalyst startup accelerator programs, and recently gained investment from investors including Uniseed and Slingshot Investments. The article includes interviews with CSIRO Chief Executive Officer, Dr Larry Marshall, and Cardihab Chief Technology Officer, Simon McBride.
The Spirit of Australia magazine is available for download at Qantas.com, with physical copies on board Qantas flights and in lounges during November 2017.
The Australian Cardiovascular Health and Rehabilitation Association (ACRA) is one of the leading organisations for cardiac rehabilitation professionals in Australia. ACRA has a vibrant membership who are enthusiastic about professional development and their enthusiasm is shown in the quality, frequency and attendance at education events.
Cardihab is proud to have sponsored the ACRA 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting and we’re “on the road again” and sponsoring, exhibiting and speaking at three State education events over two weeks. Our road trip started last week with a vendor exhibit and sponsorship of the ACRA NSW/ACT conference in Sydney.
This week Cardihab is in Melbourne for the Victorian ACRA Education Day, where we are a Bronze sponsor and exhibitor, and on the Sunshine Coast for the ACRA Queensland/Heart Foundation Secondary Prevention in Cardiology Symposium where we are a Silver sponsor, exhibitor and invited speaker.
Cardihab Director and Uniseed CEO Dr Peter Devine was recently interviewed on Sky News Business. Uniseed is a venture capital fund operated in partnership by the Universities of Melbourne, Queensland, New South Wales and Sydney, and the CSIRO. The fund has a mandate to commercialise partner research by targeting investment in highly promising technologies. Dr Devine describes why Uniseed invested in Cardihab and its plans for growth.
Brisbane, Australia, September 19th 2017: An Australian solution to dramatically improve recovery from a heart attack today became reality.
Cardihab’s technology platform was developed by scientists at the Australian eHealth Research Centre (AEHRC), a joint venture between CSIRO and the Queensland Government. Cardihab was spun-out from CSIRO after raising venture capital investment of $1.35 million in the new company.
In Australia someone has a heart attack every nine minutes, however less than one third of survivors follow through with cardiac rehabilitation, resulting in up to a 50% chance of being readmitted to hospital in the following year.
Cardihab is a smartphone app connected to a clinic based portal, used for remote patient management following a cardiac event. The app gives clinicians the ability to deliver more convenient, flexible and engaging cardiac rehabilitation meaning better outcomes for patients, clinicians and health service administrators.
Cardihab’s model of care is backed by a randomised control trial that was conducted by CSIRO and the Metro North Brisbane Health and Hospital Service, and published in the international journal Heart. The trial demonstrated that the Cardihab model of care was clinically equivalent to normal care, but significantly improved patient uptake, adherence and completion of cardiac rehabilitation.
Cardihab was able to demonstrate there was no additional benefit for patients who receive face to face care, compared to patients whose cardiac rehabilitation was carried out by a clinician remotely.
Cardihab Chief Technology Officer Simon McBride was part of the team that has been developing and trialling the technology while undertaking research at the AEHRC. “Today’s investment gives us the platform on which to build the company and make a difference to the lives of millions of Australians,” McBride said.
Of the $1.35million invested in Cardihab, $500,000 has come from Uniseed, a venture fund operating at the Universities of Melbourne, New South Wales, Sydney, Queensland and CSIRO.
The remaining investment is made by private cardiology groups, and existing Cardihab shareholder Slingshot Investments as manager of the Slingshot Venture Fund.
Cardihab benefited from participation in CSIRO’s AcceleratiON and Slingshot’s HCF Catalyst accelerator programs and is led by recently appointed CEO Gus Taddeo, who was formerly Managing Director of Cook Medical Australia.