Home-Based Cardiac Rehab Could Be the Care of the Future


Home-Based Cardiac Rehab Could Be the Care of the Future

In the age of technology, distance has no longer proved an obstacle.

From telecommuting to work to sending information halfway around the world in seconds, greater connectivity means alternative ways to do things traditionally reserved for face-to-face interaction. Which is why some doctors believe home-care, specifically home-based cardiac rehabilitation could be the medicine of the future.

Last month, AACVPR—along with the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology—published a joint scientific statement calling home-based cardiac rehabilitation a viable option for patients who need care after a heart attack or other heart procedure, but can’t attend medical center-based programs.

Randal J. Thomas, MD, MS, was chair of the writing group for the statement, and is a professor of medicine and medical director of the cardiac rehabilitation program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He said about 80% of U.S. patients who would benefit from cardiac rehabilitation do not participate, for a variety of reasons. One barrier, though, is the ability to physically attend a medical center to receive the care.

“There are significant barriers that prevent patients from getting the cardiac rehabilitation they need,” he said. “And, there aren’t enough programs in the United States to meet the needs of every patient that would benefit.”

Home-based cardiac rehabilitation is comprehensive care that is monitored to help ensure patients get scientifically-based care. Typically, rehabilitation care is done in a medical center and involves a team of medical professionals, including doctors, psychologists and dietitians. Having this type of post-event care can greatly reduce the risk of having another heart problem.

Because of the barriers, doctors have been trying to figure out how to make this type of rehabilitation successful in an at-home situation. Thomas believes it’s closer than we imagine, and that with programs run at home in conjunction with supervision and coaching it could be the rehabilitation solution of the future.

“It’s possible that a home-based approach will increase participation rates and maintain high quality care, but we’d need to monitor that over time,” he said.

He said to ensure patients receive the best care at home, professionals will need to utilize close supervision and operate those programs at a high level. As time goes on—and as some barriers start to go away or change—Thomas predicts it could really take off.

“It’s a great opportunity for cardiac rehabilitation professionals to help grow the field in a positive and innovative way,” he said. “I think sometimes we look at new models of care as a threat to what we do, but this is a cast that will augment and improve the care that we’re providing. And it gives us a chance to provide better and innovative care, so that more patients can receive the rehab care they need.”