How has technology been used to deliver cardiac rehabilitation during the COVID-19 pandemic? An international cross-sectional survey of healthcare professionals conducted by the BACPR.

AF O'Doherty, H Humphreys, S Dawkes, A Cowie, S Hinton, PH Brubaker, T Butler, S Nichols

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Abstract

Objective To investigate whether exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation services continued during the COVID-19 pandemic and how technology has been used to deliver home-based cardiac rehabilitation.

Design A mixed methods survey including questions about exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation service provision, programme diversity, patient complexity, technology use, barriers to using technology, and safety.

Setting International survey of exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation programmes.

Participants Healthcare professionals working in exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation programmes worldwide.

Main outcome measures The proportion of programmes that continued providing exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation and which technologies had been used to deliver home-based cardiac rehabilitation.

Results Three hundred and thirty eligible responses were received; 89.7% were from the UK. Approximately half (49.3%) of respondents reported that cardiac rehabilitation programmes were suspended due to COVID-19. Of programmes that continued, 25.8% used technology before the COVID-19 pandemic. Programmes typically started using technology within 19 days of COVID-19 becoming a pandemic. 48.8% did not provide cardiac rehabilitation to high-risk patients, telephone was most commonly used to deliver cardiac rehabilitation, and some centres used sophisticated technology such as teleconferencing.

Conclusions The rapid adoption of technology into standard practice is promising and may improve access to, and participation in, exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation beyond COVID-19. However, the exclusion of certain patient groups and programme suspension could worsen clinical symptoms and well-being, and increase hospital admissions. Refinement of current practices, with a focus on improving inclusivity and addressing safety concerns around exercise support to high-risk patients, may be needed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere046051
JournalBMJ Open
Volume11
Issue number4
Early online date20 Apr 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2021

Keywords

  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • COVID-19
  • telemedicine
  • adult cardiology
  • rehabilitation medicine

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