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Digital & Innovation

Digital health partnership to improve equitable access to heart disease management

Health Industry Hub | April 14, 2023 |

Digital & Innovation: The Queensland government is backing a home-grown medical technology business through a partnership to provide real-world solutions to a significant challenge. More patients will soon have access to Cardihab’s Digital Cardiac Rehabilitation program thanks to grant funding support of $250,000 from the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport and Advance Queensland.

Every year, over 65,000 Australians experience an acute coronary syndrome and around one third occur in people with prior coronary heart disease. Cardiac rehabilitation aims to prevent a repeat acute coronary syndrome by supporting patients’ return to an active and fulfilling lifestyle.

Cardihab was spun out from the CSIRO in 2017 after raising $1.35 million in venture capital. Its virtual Cardiac Rehabilitation platform, which is currently being used by Mater Private Hospital Townsville patients, will be further deployed throughout Mater’s extensive Queensland hospital networks to improve efficiencies and address accessibility issues that have long plagued many regions of Australia in relation to critical healthcare needs, in particular cardiovascular disease treatment and ongoing management.

The digital health project will see the Mater Private Hospital Townsville Cardiac Rehabilitation team become the central hub for delivery of virtual cardiac rehabilitation and will service the entire state of Queensland with referrals from Mater Brisbane, Mater Rockhampton, Mater Mackay and Mater Bundaberg.

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The Cardihab program enables people from rural and remote communities to recover from cardiac procedures or events from the comfort of home, while receiving quality virtual cardiac rehabilitation care for 6 weeks under the guidance of Mater Private Hospital Townsville clinicians.

Mater Group CEO, Dr Peter Steer, spoke about their commitment to innovation in providing quality care.

“Mater is at the forefront of the wave of innovation that is changing the way healthcare providers work. We can now reach and support patients in the most remote parts of our state through new virtual services, providing world class healthcare for all.”

As a leading cause of morbidity and mortality nationally, and with a rising cost to the Australian healthcare system of over $1 billion per month, the urgency to develop efficient and effective care solutions for people living with cardiovascular disease is significant.

Cardiac rehabilitation programs provide long-term behavioural strategies that are critical to the management of cardiovascular disease. Despite its proven effectiveness, attendance rates are persistently low with only 10-30% of eligible people attending traditional facility-based programs.

With Queensland listed at number 2 on the Heart Foundation national heart disease geographic hotspots ranking, improving access to cardiac rehabilitation is an urgent statewide imperative with regional and rural communities identified as the greatest at need.

Mater Private Hospital Townsville is the largest private cardiac facility north of Brisbane and will use the Cardihab digital therapeutic solution and apps to provide cardiac rehabilitation to 300 public and private patients across the state over the next 12 months.

Cardihab CEO, Helen Souris, said “We are proud to be working with the visionary leaders and healthcare teams at the Mater, who understand the vital need for digitally enabled care, to overcome the challenges of traditional centre-based models, particularly in regional areas. Our virtual care hub will lead the way in enabling digital care to become a scalable and sustainable modality that delivers improvements in access to care and outcomes for patients and communities. We are grateful to have the support of the Queensland government and Advance Queensland for this collaboration.”

The initiative is part of the Queensland government’s commitment of $142 million towards the Advance Queensland Innovation for a Future Economy 2022-2032 roadmap aimed at driving innovation, entrepreneurship and jobs.

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