Remotely supervised exercise training for heart failure

Exercise rehabilitation is vital for people with heart failure to improve their quality of life, avoid hospital admissions, and lower their risk of preventable death.

Yet people with heart failure often face a number of barriers to access exercise rehabilitation.

Through a National Heart Foundation of Australia Fellowship, Dr Jonathan Rawstorn is building on an existing evidence-based telerehabilitation program that provides real-time remote exercise monitoring, coaching, and health behaviour change support to people with coronary heart disease.

“I’m working with people who have heart failure, as well as healthcare professionals who deliver exercise rehabilitation, to adapt this program for the specific clinical and exercise needs of heart failure,” Dr Rawstorn explained.

“It’s important to understand their needs and preferences, and how the telerehabilitation program can be optimised to suit. Once the telerehabilitation program is adapted, people with heart failure will complete the program so we can measure the health benefits, safety, costs, and user experiences.”

“My long term goal is to see this research adopted in routine clinical practice, so it can help many more people to experience the benefits of high quality exercise rehabilitation,” he said.

“To achieve that, I’m also building partnerships with healthcare organisations and seeking input from health consumers to work towards larger studies.

“Through these studies, I hope to provide strong evidence for the health and cost benefits of telerehabilitation; and to understand the complex range of factors that determine how telerehabilitation can be successfully and sustainably implemented across healthcare organisations.”

He said while COVID-19 had caused him to rethink some of his original plans, it also highlighted the critical need for innovative healthcare delivery models that can provide people with evidence-based, high value healthcare outside of traditional clinical environments. 

“The basic rationale for telerehabilitation hasn’t changed, but it’s never before been so clear to so many people. That’s helping to accelerate research and healthcare partnerships here in Australia and internationally, so it’s an exciting time to be working in my field,” he said.