Revolutionising patients' heart care - the modern era of heart treatment

Revolutionising patients' heart care - the modern era of heart treatment

08 Apr 2016

Always at the forefront of cardiac knowledge and innovation, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney has launched a new website portal for patients, families and carers touched by the single biggest killer of Australian men and women - heart disease.

The new St Vincent’s Heart Health website at provides expert comprehensive advice and resources through all stages of heart disease from diagnosis through to treatment, recovery and beyond.

The brainchild of Associate Professor Cameron Holloway, the innovative project came about as a result of the large number of rural patients referred to St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney who were unable to attend cardiac rehab after their surgeries, as well as those who returned to work soon after their treatment. A/Prof Holloway saw a disconnect between the care and attention patients were able to receive in hospital with a lack of resources and information once they returned to their homes at the beginning of their recovery period.

For those who had just been diagnosed, particularly in rural areas, he saw that patients were sometimes uncertain and confused about what may lie ahead. In line with St Vincents’ mission to help the poor and vulnerable, the website is designed to assist patients in areas where it can be difficult to access support, care and answers.

The portal was conceived as a way of bringing “health education into the modern world, via online education for everyone to access locally, regionally and nationally 24/7”, said Holloway. Patients can view easy-to-understand animated videos on tests, procedures and surgeries they may have, as well as delve into written advice from St Vincent’s specialists. 

Holloway said, "We know from talking to hundreds of patients and their support networks that learning about heart disease as well as understanding the many tests, treatments and follow-up care options can be very confusing. You could be about to have your first MRI, be preparing for bypass surgery, or wanting to learn how to recover well from a pacemaker. Regardless of the stage, the St Vincent’s Heart Health website enables the patient to create a journey that's specifically designed for them".

The journey includes simple animations that the team have developed which demonstrates tests and procedures as well as video messages from St Vincent’s cardiac specialists working in the field including doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians, social workers, psychologists, pharmacists and more. A glossary of common cardiac-related words also helps patients who may find it difficult to understand medical terms. The science explained on each page and in each video was verified by an expert medical team, and will be updated as evidence evolves and new technology comes to light. “We’ve found that the portal has empowered patients through their cardiac journey before procedures, during their in-patient stay, and recovery period, as they’ve been able to take ownership of their condition from the point of diagnosis”, said Holloway.

As an added benefit, “The website has also been incredibly useful to our new grads, medical teams and GPs in rural areas, as it helps update their knowledge on procedures and surgeries”, said Holloway.

After receiving initial funding for scoping from the St Vincent’s Clinic Foundation, A/Prof Cameron Holloway and Clinical Nurse Consultant Tamra Langley worked with fundraising group SIRENS who raised approximately $1 million for a three year operational period.

“We’re incredibly grateful to SIRENS and Sister Jacinta for their tireless fundraising efforts, and their vision”, said Holloway.

In the coming weeks, the Heart Health program will reach thousands of patients, as they explore the website portal in hospital before they’re discharged. Approximately 100 iPads will be loaned to patients during their stay as part of their education program. “To reach this number of patients and start their cardiac rehab education before they’ve left is incredible”, said A/Prof Holloway.