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The challenge

Improving access to CVD therapy and education in remote and Indigenous communities

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) refers to a host of life-threatening conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, heart failure, congenital heart disease and stroke.

A 3D rendering of atherosclerosis, an underlying cause of cardiovascular disease where plaques build up on artery walls, restricting or even blocking blood flow throughout the body. ©  Shutterstock, Crevis

CVD has long been a significant health problem among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Statistics show that the condition remains the leading cause of death for the population, and that Indigenous adults are almost twice as likely as non-Indigenous adults to be hospitalised with CVD.

Improved access to culturally appropriate primary healthcare is needed to support patients with and reduce the prevalence of CVD in remote and Indigenous communities.

Our response

We're investigating the use of a mobile health platform to support people in Indigenous communities either with or at risk of CVD

Partnering with the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC), our scientists at the Australian eHealth Research Centre are leading a mobile health scoping project for screening, managing and even preventing CVD in Indigenous communities.

Collaborating with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders and clinicians, our researchers are exploring the feasibility of a digital platform and app to help provide access to CVD healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

With features to monitor blood pressure and manage medication, the platform can screen for and manage CVD, with its capabilities extending to the support of preventative health measures related to physical activity, diet and smoking.

The platform will seek to improve individuals' understanding of their own health, as well as strengthen their relationships with treating clinicians.

The results

Trialling the digital health platform in regional and remote communities

We have successfully completed the scoping phase with the publication of this report. Findings highlight two key outcomes.

Firstly, consultation findings contribute narrative information about the perceived value that hypertension m-health may have in the contexts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisation (ATSICCHO) patients and models of care. A foundation of possible enablers and barriers for how m-health may improve hypertension outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been documented and provides a reference point to underpin further consideration.

Finally, the Scoping Study consultation process and subsequent findings have built a culturally respectful foundation to guide engagement, potential partnership, co-design and implementation of hypertension m-health with ATSICCHOs in their communities.

In partnership with QAIHC, trial sites in regional and remote ATSICCHOs have been established and will commence in early 2021. Download a summary of the Hypertension Scoping Study report PDF (711 KB) .

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