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Paige Stocks, Director, Partnerships

Digital health and DTx solutions pave the way for better patient experiences and outcomes. One of the areas where I consistently hear complaints about underutilization of digital health tools is for cardiology.  Many Americans have cardiac issues, have surgery or another treatment, and then go home to recover.  This period immediately following the procedure is a stressful time for everyone. Given all the challenges around access to care – from appointment scheduling to driving and parking – it seems there is a great opportunity for remote cardiac rehab solutions to provide benefits all around. But still, adoption among health systems and payors is so low – a lagger among laggers, if you will. 

There are distinct remote cardiac rehab advantages. These tools can:

  • Reduce readmissions – and all the headaches that go with that for everyone
  • Create an optimized scheduling mix so providers can focus in-person time on the patients who need it most
  • Improve patient experiences and outcomes beyond the encounter or procedure

Cardiology is already digitally enabled in certain ways, so it’s not as if remote care is a stretch for this field. If a patient has a pacemaker, they get a phone call to check in on their pacemaker. This is not new technology. Neither are remote teleICUs. 

Cardiology is poised to build on its existing technology structure with digital health and improved data integration. It’s simply a matter of connecting the dots.

Cardiology Departments are Close-Knit Teams

Digital health vendors should know that cardiology teams are highly specialized – not just at the clinician level, but at every level of support. The multidisciplinary heart team approach (cardiologists, radiologists, imagers, echocardiographers, nurses, and research coordinators) has serious legs for value-based care, and digital health has the potential to keep the team connected.

There are documented pain points in cardiology that digital health can help alleviate. One out of four cardiologists reports having mental health conditions. Of those, 44% felt dissatisfied regarding at least one professional metric, including feeling valued, fairly treated, and adequately compensated. In short, it’s not a stretch to deduce that these invaluable healthcare professionals feel like they’re doing too much. 

Cardiologists are already heavily reliant on their downstream care teams. Leveraging digital health tools and data integration can free up more time for these specialists to work at the top of their licenses. It can also give them invaluable patient insights that they wouldn’t be privy to or wouldn’t discover until the patient’s next office visit. 

Remote Cardiac Rehab Opportunities

If a patient has a heart attack, they typically must visit their provider onsite, and it’s very intensive. Rehab usually lasts about three months but can range from 2 to 8 months.

This is a major challenge for patients who live in rural areas, have rigid working schedules, or experience other difficulties getting to their appointments.

Xealth and Duke Health’s partnership with Pattern Health is improving health equity and patient access. Their digital health platform offers virtual care programs, surveys, and clinical decision-support tools to navigate SDOH better. 

Advocate Aurora Health (AAH) is making similar strides with its VitalTech program and home care. AAH wanted to expand care into patient homes and uses the VitalTech connected care app to enroll patients in communities and send them devices for home use. 

AAH’s virtual monitoring team can access Digital Care in the EHR and order the appropriate program. Xealth emails the patient with a community-specific program link to close the loop. Once patients register, specific RPM devices are automatically shipped, and their care provider can see their engagement. 

Cardiology teams could be implementing similar programs to alleviate the primary challenges their patients face in managing cardiac rehab. 

Explore the Potential ROI of Digital Cardiology

Standardization: Chronic heart failure parallels autoimmune diseases, most notably because care plans are highly individualized. Vendors should think about where they can help standardize remote care and make a positive impact. Diabetes vendor partners, for example, have expanded their scope to encompass more chronic conditions, such as chronic heart failure and fatty liver disease.

Optimized scheduling mix: There is potential for increased throughput when more patients who need to be seen can secure appointments, and others can be monitored at home. There is simply no sense in an in-person visit for a routine check when it is inconvenient for the patient and takes clinician appointment times from patients with more significant needs. 

Patient outcomes and experiences: Of course, digital cardiology tools can help providers know what patients to pay attention to and when between their scheduled appointments, which supports value-based care initiatives. And it’s no secret that patients don’t want to stay in hospitals longer than they absolutely have to. Win-win. 

Cardiology stands to benefit significantly from the development and implementation of more remote digital solutions. In terms of health equity, patient access, new efficiencies, and more top-of-license time for cardiologists, there is no question that digital health stands to transform the field. 

Xealth can help cardiology departments, and vendors build on their existing resources with our established digital health ecosystem and partnerships.

Request your demo today to learn why Xealth has what it takes to substantially impact cardiology and other specialty areas that find themselves missing out on the benefits of digital health

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