One of the barriers to patients completing a traditional center based cardiac rehabilitation program is the need to travel to a specific site for the rehab. Technology can now be used to make rehabilitation programs available in the home, reserving center-based visits for those who need that level of supervision or consultation. In 2015 the American College of Cardiology stated “Given the increasing access of Americans to mobile phones and the Internet, telemedicine programs are emerging as promising alternatives to in-person programs, with improved accessibility and reduced costs.” (see: http://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/ten-points-to-remember/2015/01/26/16/25/cardiac-rehabilitation-and-risk-reduction)
Home-based programs can be monitored remotely through the use of eHealth solutions that support wearable devices for activity tracking, digital scales, and other measures of well-being. These solutions can provide automated, rules-based alerts to care managers and providers if a patient is falling off their individualized rehab plan. Perhaps most importantly, these solutions can alert case managers and providers when a patient is not completing their rehab activities and telephonic interactions with the patient can be used to encourage them to complete the 12-week program given the dramatic impact it will have on their health and well-being.
One of the concerns commonly raised about using eHealth solutions in the care of the elderly is that this group lags behind the rest of the population in terms of adoption of new digital technology. Although this is true a Pew Research study from 2014 already showed that the elderly US population was using the technology in sufficient numbers to make eHealth approaches a viable means to both meet the needs of a large percentage of the population and do it in a cost effective way (see: http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/04/03/older-adults-and-technology-use/). That study showed that 77% of individuals over 65 years of age used a cellular phone and that 59% used the internet. Of those individuals using the internet 71% used it every day or nearly every day. Therefore, greater than 40% of individuals over 65 years of age used the internet nearly every day in 2014. It is likely that the percentage is even higher today.
The combination of the impact of cardiac rehabilitation programs on the health of patients who have suffered a cardiac event, the ease with which eHealth cardiac rehabs can be implemented and the cost saving associated with such programs makes home-based, internet supported cardiac rehab programs a must-have for health systems. The barriers to implementing such programs have largely been eliminated.
Philips VitalHealth has developed a cloud-based solution to support such cardiac rehabilitation programs.