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    Improving access to cardiac rehab during COVID-19 restrictions

    Heart Health

    Medibank’s cardiac rehabilitation program is experiencing an increase in patient referrals during COVID-19, 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.

    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.

    Medibank Senior Executive, of Member Health Rebecca Bell said clinical evidence showed that attending cardiac rehabilitation after an acute cardiac event can reduce cardiac-related readmissions by 30% and reduces the chance of death by 30% within 12 months.

    “The goal of the program is to improve access to cardiac rehabilitation so that patients can feel supported in their recovery, better understand and manage their risk factors for cardiovascular disease and take positive steps to reduce their risk of a future cardiovascular event,” Ms Bell said.

    Of the more than 20,000 Medibank customers who have their first acute cardiac event each year, 50% have a cardiac-related readmission within the next 5 years.

    The Medibank Heart Health at Home trial for customers includes:

    • Clinical care coordinators (such as a cardiac nurse) to provide one to one personalised support through weekly telephone consultations.

    • Support and counselling to make healthy lifestyle changes and reduce stress.

    • Access to the Medibank Heart Health at Home app, powered by Cardihab. The CSIRO-developed phone app, provides advice and guidance to help customers manage and keep track of their blood pressure, medications, weight, physical activity, diet, stress and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

    • A program tailored to increase physical activity safely.

    Medibank customers who may be eligible for the Heart Health at Home trial will be contacted by Medibank’s Health Concierge Team, who help support customers through hospital treatment.

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