According to the British Heart Foundation, Cardiovascular disease still kills around one in four people in the UK. Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is a programme of exercise and information sessions to help people get back on their feet again after a heart attack, heart surgery or procedure and is an effective way of minimising future risks.

Research shows cardiac rehabilitation reduces the risk of death from heart disease by 26 to 36% and reduces readmissions by 28 to 56%. However, the uptake in the UK is low.

Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) has recognised the impact that technology could have on rehabilitation support. As part of Eastern AHSN’s Digital Pioneers programme, HDC have launched the technology focussed ‘CR+’ project which aims to improve their cardiac rehabilitation offer and increase patient activation levels.

CR+ combines three elements of support. Firstly, a new educational syllabus for self-care integrated with the existing exercise programme. Secondly, the use of Activ8rlives (A8) self-care technology developed with support from innovation broker, SBRI Healthcare. The third element is to create a follow-on support group.

The monitoring equipment will be provided initially to 130 people on-loan for up to six months. They will receive an eight-week training programme and at the end users will be able to purchase their equipment at a discount, or return it for reuse.

HDC are working with patients and volunteers to co-produce and deliver the project. Without their expertise and support from the start, the project would be at a high risk of failure. Patients, carers, health and care professionals, technology and innovation experts are all working collaboratively together to find the best possible route to success.

The pilot project will focus on 130 patients but if successful, HDC hope to rollout CR+ to many more cardiac patients across Huntingdonshire. HDC hopes that this type of technology can be replicated in other areas that they operate in and could also open up other pathways for different conditions such as pulmonary rehabilitation, cancer and diabetes. They also plan to share learning across the eastern region and more widely throughout England via the other regional AHSNs.

The primary aims of CR+ are:

a) to see if using this equipment encourages participants to be more active
b) to see if it improves adherence to the rehabilitation classes
c) to see if it improves their overall health (i.e. blood pressure, weight, body composition changes or quality of life).
d) to understand the impact on patient activation – how knowledgeable and confident people feel managing their condition as a result of participation in the programme

Evidence from the US on patient activation demonstrates a potential 20% reduction in care costs for individuals who are provided with key facts about their condition, are confident and well-supported to take action to adopt good behaviours.

The data collected is available via the app for each patient as well as those accessing the clinician portal, so that all results can be viewed and the impact as a whole accurately analysed.

Daniel Gammons, the Digital Pioneer leading the project said:

“We want patients to feel totally comfortable with using the latest technology to help them with self-care. We believe that by co-producing the initiative, using a combination of the A8 app, plus training and support, we can make this work for people and significantly improve the quality of their lives.”

Digital Pioneer – Daniel Gammons, Sports Development Officer (Health Inequalities), Huntingdonshire District Council:
Victoria Corbishley, Director of Transformation, Eastern AHSN:

© Eastern AHSN