Reflecting on the NHMRC Country Heart Attack Prevention (CHAP) Partnership Project
A $3.3 million clinical research and translation project has transformed cardiac rehabilitation for people living in rural and remote areas, making the lifesaving, evidence-based programs more accessible and improving health outcomes for these communities.
The Country Heart Attack Prevention Project (CHAP) began in 2019, with the goal of improving attendance at cardiac rehabilitation programs in Australia.
The CHAP project aimed to tackle this attendance issue from several key angles. The team first identified four major barriers to participation in cardiac rehabilitation, which included limited referrals to the programs, a lack of patient-centred approaches, a lack of sustainable lifelong commitment to secondary prevention, and heterogeneous quality among the available programs.
They addressed each of these barriers in turn with innovative solutions. To improve referrals to cardiac rehabilitation, the team created the Country Access to Cardiac Health (CATCH) system, which provided a centralised referral process for all patients discharged from hospital after a cardiac event. CATCH also implemented a telehealth-based service to improve accessibility and the patient-centred nature of cardiac rehabilitation, the efficacy of which was supported by evidence collected in the early stages of the project.
To improve the sustainability and lifelong commitment to cardiac rehab, the team also developed a model of care which relied on a strong collaboration between general practitioners and local nurses, along with telehealth services. This model was created in partnership with the consumers and clinicians to ensure it suited their needs.
All along the way, the team also evaluated each of these approaches, collecting high-quality evidence to assess and support the translation of the CHAP model into mainstream clinical practice.
Wendy Keech, Executive Officer of Health Translation SA (HTSA) provided leadership regarding the translational aspects of the project as an Associate Investigator from the very beginning, facilitating interactions across health networks and institutions.
“The whole team has done so many things right. They’ve consulted with all the right people from the start, had a clear game plan, and thought about the impact they wanted to have,” said Wendy.
Now, at the conclusion of the CHAP project, the team has shared the final outcomes and impacts of their efforts, and the benefits are crystal clear.
As a result of three years implementing current evidence into practice, South Australian country cardiac patients now have access to the best, evidence-based, patient-centred and cost-effective international standard of cardiac rehabilitation in the nation,”explained project lead Professor Robyn Clark at the final CHAP showcase.