Greater uptake of cardiac rehabilitation will save lives and reduce costs to the health system by $86.7 million, according to new research published by the Heart Foundation in Heart, Lung and Circulation journal’s February 2016 edition.
EY Partner Cameron Bird says this analysis has provided additional insights into the wider, longer-term impacts of cardiac rehabilitation.
“Our analysis shows that greater participation in cardiac rehabilitation can reduce the burden of disease by improving outcomes for patients after a heart attack or other cardiac event,” Bird says.
“This directly translates to a reduction of costs in the healthcare system and wider economy, which more than offsets the costs associated with the increase in participation.”
Heart Foundation Victoria CEO, Diana Heggie, says cardiac rehabilitation is the first, critical step on the road to recovery from a heart attack.
“Cardiac rehabilitation is a program that helps patients return to normal life and reduces their risk of having a repeat heart attack or cardiac event, yet only 30% of patients currently attend programs in Australia,” Heggie says.
This analysis shows that if uptake was increased to 65% over a ten year period:
- the healthcare system would save up to $86.7 million;
- the social and economic benefits would increase by $227.2 million;
- hospitals would see 5,133 fewer readmissions; and
- the years of healthy life lost would be reduced by 37,565.
Heggie says the main reasons patients are not attending cardiac rehabilitation are a lack of referral to and promotion of cardiac rehabilitation programs.
“Referral and promotion of cardiac rehabilitation is not standard practice in our hospitals and programs are not available or accessible to all patients, especially to those living in rural and remote areas,” she says.
“If you are to have a heart attack today, you will receive the highest quality treatment to help you survive that event. However, you aren’t guaranteed to get the support you need to recover and keep you out of hospital once you are discharged.
“The results of this analysis highlight why we need more effective patient education and routine referral in our hospitals, as well as reforms to boost uptake of cardiac rehabilitation.”
The Heart Foundation is calling on the State Government to work with them to improve referral and participation in the cardiac rehabilitation programs in Victoria.