Couple holding phone sit in front of a healthy meal.

CSIRO is using modern communications technology to allow home-based rehabilitation.

Care assessment platform: home-based rehabilitation for cardiac patients

Through the Australian e-Health Research Centre, CSIRO has designed a home-based rehabilitation program for cardiac patients using mobile phone and web technology.

  • 28 July 2011 | Updated 14 October 2011

Cardiovascular diseases kill one Australian nearly every ten minutes. It is also a major cost to the community with more than $5.5 billion spent every year on acute and chronic management of these conditions.

After being treated in hospital for a cardiac event, such as a heart attack, patients are referred to a six week outpatient rehabilitation program to help them return to an active, satisfying life and to prevent another acute cardiac event.

Successful rehabilitation relies on patients starting and completing the program, but many find travelling to a health care facility on a weekly basis to be an onerous requirement – particularly for those who work or care for others.

Fewer than 20 per cent of those who commence a cardiac rehabilitation program stay to the end.

Current activities

The personalised nature of our program and its integration with daily life means patients are more likely to complete it and make their new healthy lifestyle permanent.

We have developed a home-based service model for cardiac rehabilitation based on mobile phones and web services.

It is currently being trialled in Queensland with Metro North Primary and Community Health Services and The Prince Charles Hospital.

Preliminary results show significant improvement in the uptake and completion of cardiac rehabilitation.

Outcomes

This technology potentially offers increased access to cardiac rehabilitation.

Its personalised nature and integration with daily life means patients are more likely to complete the program and make their new healthy lifestyle permanent.

Our program does not replace standard rehabilitation programs but offers a more flexible option for eligible patients and greatly minimises reliance on health centre visits.

Technical details

In our program, Nokia mobile phones are used to:

  • measure physiological data (such as the number of steps taken)
  • keep a wellness diary
  • provide daily motivational and educational text messages
  • show educational video clips
  • play relaxing audio
  • conduct weekly phone or video conferences with the mentor.

Having the wellness diary and physiological data in the phone means patients can easily keep an eye on what they’ve been up to.

This is important because regular self-monitoring is crucial to changing behaviour and maintaining that change.

Getting supportive feedback is another critical component of the program. This is offered via the phone and also through Nokia’s Wellness Diary web portal.

Mentors use the web portal to access patients’ objective data and self observations. Patients can also use the portal to view their wellness data, how they’re tracking against their goals and for richer feedback from their mentor than is available through the phone.

Platform technology

This project is part of wider work using modern communications technology as a
broad care assessment platform as well as data analysis and decision support tools.

This model is easily adaptable to the home-based management of other chronic diseases.

Partners

Our collaborators include:

  • Queensland Health
  • Metro North Primary and Community Health Services
  • The Prince Charles Hospital.

Achievements

This project won both the e-health, and the e-Inclusions and e-Community categories of the 2011 Queensland iAwards.

Read more technical detail about the Care Assessment Platform [external link].

AEHRC logo. The Australian e-Health Research Centre is a joint venture between CSIRO and the Queensland Government.