Enhancing the equity, access, and quality of cardiac rehabilitation programs

January 2024December 2028
National Health and Medical Research Council

Cardiac rehabilitation enables people who have suffered a heart event to self-manage their condition and improve their quality of life. It reduces admissions to hospital and saves lives. However, many eligible patients (approximately 70 percent) do not attend. Some barriers to accessing facility-based programs (e.g. inflexible timing of program delivery, transport issues) can be solved through providing alternate delivery options. Telehealth-delivered cardiac rehabilitation has been shown to be as safe and effective as in-person delivery and is well-liked by patients. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a powerful push for clinicians to use telehealth. However, cardiac rehabilitation services require additional support to implement evidenced-based telehealth innovations.
My overarching aim of this NHMRC Investigator Grant is to integrate telehealth into cardiac rehabilitation services. This project will use a learning health system approach, partnering with consumers and clinicians to advance the field of cardiac-telerehabilitation. This project will i) determine the needs and preferences of consumers in how their care is delivered; ii) support clinicians to develop knowledge, skills and confidence to implement evidence-based telehealth; (iii) co-design a high-quality, evidence-based virtual resource hub and (iv) utilise clinical registry data to evaluate uptake, quality, and equity of cardiac rehabilitation.
Collectively this will enhance patient outcomes through providing flexible and innovative models of care that support patients with heart disease in ways that fully respect their needs, values, capabilities and consequently better support them to self-manage their condition, reducing future cardiovascular events. By supporting services to expand and enhance their telehealth offerings, it is likely that this project will reduce geographical barriers to accessing cardiac rehabilitation.

Project members

Outdoor portrait of Dr Emma Thomas

Dr Emma Thomas

Research Fellow
Centre for Health Services Research