Burntsand was engaged to design and develop the Virtual Cardiac Rehab Programme environment with an objective to put the patient at the centre of the design. Patients do not have to be Web and computer savvy to take advantage of this programme. This site, expertly designed by Burntsand's usability team, takes into consideration that many patients will have limited Web experience.
Participants in the Healthy Heart study receive professional advice, attend group sessions, and participate in monitored regular exercise programmes on-line. Rather than meeting face to face, patients recovering from cardiovascular disease will attend Web chat sessions led by health care professionals. Exercise sessions are monitored using heart rate monitors, and results are transmitted through secure Internet-based communications to the appropriate specialist, and a database is created to track a patient's progress.
This pilot study is a "virtual" version of Healthy Heart's in-hospital post-surgery rehabilitation programme, with patient participation currently in the recruitment and selection phase of the programme. By recreating Healthy Heart on-line, the hospital hopes to reach patients living outside Vancouver, or those on long waiting lists.
"We are excited about the potential to enhance health care services using a Web-based virtual cardiac rehabilitation programme", stated Dr. Scott Lear, Assistant Academic Director of Providence Heath Care's Healthy Heart programme. "It is complementary to existing services and fills a number of voids. We will be able to improve our ability to deliver effective clinical programmes to a far wider patient population."
Dr. Lear further commented that such a programme will also be useful for patients on waiting lists. It is expected that providing patients with information and support while they are waiting to enter a CRP will result in significant improvements to exercise capacity, physical activity participation, dietary composition, self-efficacy and depression. A "virtual" CRP may also prove to be beneficial as a tool for long-term follow-up. It will provide a way to help reinforce healthy behaviour practices and avert patients returning to old habits.
"Burntsand is pleased to have developed a telemedicine Portal that uses the power of the Internet to increase access and extend the reach of medical services to home based and rural patients", commented Mel Steinke, Burntsand President and CEO. "The Burntsand team was privileged to work with the Healthy Heart team to create an application that puts a very practical and human face on the Internet. They are to be commended, as the hard work of a few should help many."
The Healthy Heart Programme is part of the Heart Centre at St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver and is affiliated with the University of British Columbia. The Healthy Heart Programme offers a comprehensive inter-disciplinary approach to the treatment and management of heart disease. St. Paul's Hospital is one of British Columbia's main acute care, academic and research hospitals and is part of Providence Health Care, a Catholic health care organisation that also includes the following facilities: Holy Family Hospital, Mount Saint Joseph Hospital, St. Vincent's Hospitals (Heather, Langara, and Brock Fahrni Pavilion) and Youville Residence.
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