Using cardiac tele-rehabilitation to address inequalities in Western Victoria

This project aims to successfully implement a proven exercise telerehabilitation program for people with coronary heart disease (e.g. heart attack) into routine clinical practice.

In partnership with four regional Western Victorian healthcare organisations*, project leader Dr Jonathan Rawstorn is exploring the issues that will help or hinder successful implementation of exercise telerehabilitation.

Dr Rawstorn is working closely with people with coronary heart disease, health professionals who deliver exercise rehabilitation, and healthcare managers who oversee rehabilitation services to understand the issues at all levels.

“We’ll then work with our healthcare partners to turn this information into strategies they can use to launch exercise telerehabilitation services in their organisation, and run a small pilot study to see how well these strategies work,” Dr Rawstorn said.

The project has sparked interest from healthcare providers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The enquiries we’re receiving from hospitals about launching exercise telerehabilitation programs shows this study has taken on even greater importance than we initially imagined,” Dr Rawstorn said.

“We’re working hard to provide healthcare organisations with the information they need to make important decisions about how exercise rehabilitation will be provided now and in the future.”

Next steps

The research team will work with healthcare providers to co-design tailored implementation strategies for exercise telerehabilitation programs in their organisation. A pilot telerehabilitation program will then be launched and evaluated.

“As well as helping healthcare partners understand the benefits of exercise telerehabilitation, we’ve designed this study to provide practical resources and guidance to simplify the process of integrating telerehabilitation into their cardiac services,” Dr Rawstorn said.

“This is particularly important in regional and rural areas where it can be even harder to access rehabilitation.”

Dr Rawstorn said he hoped this project would expand the use of telerehabilitation across more healthcare partners.

“The ultimate goal is for those people who would otherwise miss out on the benefits of exercise rehabilitation to have access to these services,” he said.

* Barwon Health, Ballarat Health Services, East Grampians Health Services, Stawell Regional Health