Heart Failure Virtual Clinics

One in 5 of us will develop heart failure in our lifetime. There are up to 90,000 people in Ireland living with Heart Failure and the estimated cost of Heart Failure is €660 million.

Heart Failure, with the correct supports can largely be managed in the community. That’s where the Heartbeat Trust steps in with its innovative approach to health care management.

The Heartbeat Trust has been at the forefront of development of structured care programmes for the prevention and management of heart failure, including a “virtual consultation” service to enable specialists and GPs to discuss cases and reduce the need for outpatient department referral by 80%.

The Heart Failure Virtual Clinics (HFVC) are used to disseminate expert advice and education to GPs. Using a web conference platform GPs can log in remotely, following presentation of a short CME topic GPs can discuss their cases with Prof Ken McDonald, Consultant Cardiologist and Medical Director of the Heartbeat Trust, Dr Patricia Campbell, Consultant Cardiologist and their specialist team. The HFVCs provide online, real-time conversations between the GP and specialist allowing speedy focused interactions

The trust has developed an info-graphic highlighting the key benefits of the HFVC and includes a number of excellent quotes from GPs across the country.

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For GPs, the HFVC provides a dynamic learning environment, improved knowledge base, peer to peer support and most importantly the necessary supports to maintain and treat heart failure patients in the primary care setting.

By managing heart failure in the community, the HFVC removes a step in the traditional care pathway facilitating interaction between the specialist/GP. The HFVC care pathway is cost efficient and creates a dynamic, collaborative communication environment compared to the traditional referral letter pathway. This in turn reduces costs and the need for patient travel and family inconvenience.  Moreover, the HFVC reduces the need for Out Patient Department (OPD) referrals which frees up hospital OPD slots for those in need of standard clinics resulting in shorter waiting times and speedier reviews.

The Heartbeat Trust are passionate about the future advancement of eHealth in Ireland and are optimistic about the use of technology for wider dissemination of heart failure knowledge and community care.

How It Works.

The Heart Failure Virtual Clinic is service that has been successfully running for twenty-four months.  These virtual consultations are held bi-weekly from the Heartbeat Trust head office and are currently on Tuesdays and Fridays at 1pm., having recently expanded into the Carlow Kilkenny region through support from the HSE.

CME topics include (but are not limited to), Diagnosis of Heart Failure, Management of Stable Heart Failure, Troubleshooting medications in heart failure and other similar topics. Following the CME topic up to six cases are discussed which results in an intense hour of impartation of knowledge.

Patient referrals are accepted through email/FAX and Healthlink, via the Heart Failure Virtual Clinic Referral tab.

Presently, there are 150 GPs signed up to date across the East Coast, Midlands and now Carlow Kilkenny region with 100% of GPs agreeing that the HFVC advice was useful in treating their patients and that the patients themselves benefited as a result of their participation in the HFVC. The patients themselves were also happy to have their conditions discussed with expert and groups of GPs and relieved to not be referred to the OPD.

The Heartbeat Trust provide full training for first time users or those that require a refresher.

If you would like further information or to sign up to the HFVC please contact Lisa McCudden on 0877474436 or lisa@heartbeat-trust.org