Besides a cardiac rehavilitationexercise regimen, Tampa General parients also receive nutrition counseling and social support services.
Economic Backbone: Cardiac Care
Remote rehabilitation after a heart procedure fills in the gaps for patients who lack access to care.
Treatment for cardiac conditions doesn’t end when a surgery or a procedure is complete. For most patients, rehabilitation is as important as the original intervention — yet nationwide, only a portion of the cardiac patients who need that service can access it.
Last fall, Tampa General Heart & Vascular Institute announced a partnership with virtual cardiac recovery program Recora to provide rehabilitation services through the 23 counties that TGH serves. Since October, TGH has worked with more than 200 patients and completed more than 2,000 sessions in the virtual cardiac rehab program.
Recora’s cardiac recovery program extends care beyond the typical 12 weeks of rehabilitation exercise to include services that focus on patients’ overall health and wellness. In addition to a cardiac rehabilitation exercise regimen, Tampa General patients receive nutrition counseling, group support and social support services, among other resources. Nurses interact virtually with patients, providing guidelines as the patients work to change habits that may have contributed to their heart conditions. The nurses can remotely monitor vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure via the patients’ wearable devices.
Recora currently serves more than 30,000 cardiac patients in the U.S. and says its patients have a 15% hospital readmission rate compared to a national average of 43% across Medicare patients with heart failure at six months. About 87% of Recora’s patients complete their recovery compared to a national average of 26%; 94% of Recora patients adhere to their cardiac medication.
The need for more effective cardiac rehabilitation programs is well-documented. Writing in the Journal of American Medical Association’s Health Forum in 2020, Recora co-founder Vivek Vishwanath said traditional cardiac rehabilitation programs were serving only about 37% of the 1.25 million eligible patients, with those in rural and low-income communities facing particular difficulty in accessing rehabilitation programs. With a shortage of qualified clinicians and facility space, cardiac patients face a median wait of 42 days for their first rehab appointment. The home-based, remote service is safe for individuals with low to moderate risk of another cardiac problem, which is about 70% of cardiac patients.
The TGH program includes a Recora Recovery Kit, consisting of an internet-enabled smart tablet that can be set to English or Spanish, resistance bands and a blood pressure monitor. Additionally, patients receive a personalized program that includes educational tools, support groups and a 24/7 chat option with the Recora care team of physicians, nurses, exercise physiologists, health coaches, dietitians and other specialists.