Rehab for Hearts

Two-prong approach appears to increase enrollment of heart disease patients in rehab program

(RxWiki News) Automatic referral to cardiac rehabilitation following a discussion between clinician and patient is linked to better use of this life-saving therapy.

A new study from York University of 2,635 patients with coronary artery disease at 11 hospitals finds patients who were referred to cardiac rehabilitation attended most (83 percent) of their cardiac rehab sessions during the year following hospitalization. The 11 hospitals used three cardiac-rehab referral approaches: physician-initiated, hospital-initiated based on standard discharge procedures (automatic) and combined (physician-initiatied with automatic referral). 

Automatic (hospital-initiated) referrals combined with physician referrals increased the likelihood that patients would attend cardiac rehabilitation by eight-fold. Both approaches combined (automatic referral with physician-initiatied referral) resulted in more than 70 percent of patients enrolling in and attending a rehabilitation program, which provides patients with education and tools to extend their lives.

In hospitals using only automatic referral systems, only 60 percent of patients enrolled in the rehab program, while usual care resulted in fewer than 29 percent opting to enroll.

Researchers suggest the automated referral coupled with doctor advice is more successful in getting people with heart disease to enroll because it targets both the clinician and the patient.

The study authors write than implementing this practice could potentially increase cardiac rehabilitation by some 45 percent.

Review Date: 
February 15, 2011