By recognizing that February 14, is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day we can help spread awareness for more than 250,000 Canadians living with the disease (Canadian Congenital Heart Alliance 2021). Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect, affecting one in every 100 children in Canada. Unfortunately, CHD and other heart conditions take many lives every single year as patient heart disease management is very difficult. However, the development of telehealth has been proven to relieve some of the burden on the management of chronic diseases.
Dr. Chowdhury, at the Cardiology Care for Children, published a study that clarifies that telehealth will be incorporated into pediatric cardiac clinical practice even after the pandemic passes (Chowdhury et al., 2020). He also mentions how telehealth also holds the promise of decreasing the no-show rate and the patient wait times for appointments while never fully replacing in-person visits, rather working harmoniously (Chowdhury et al., 2020). Below is a table for some “do’s and don’ts” for using telehealth in your clinic.
Figure 1 – How to Maximize Telehealth Usage in your Clinic
Note. Adapted from “Telehealth for Pediatric Cardiology Practitioners in the Time of COVID-19” by D. Chowdhury, 2020, Pediatric Cardiology, 41(6), 1081–1091.
Telemedicine Improves Care for all Heart Conditions
According to 2012/13 data from the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System (CCDSS) indicate that 1 in 12 (or 2.4 million) Canadian adults aged 20 and over live with diagnosed heart disease (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2017).
A study performed by Gian Franco Gensini, Director of the Italian Telemedicine Society mentions that telehealth may be a solution to support the method of care for patients with heart conditions. When compared to multidisciplinary intervention programs which are frequently hindered by economic, geographic, and bureaucratic barriers, non-invasive remote monitoring could be a solution to support and promote the care of patients over time and maximize value (Gensini et al., 2017).
Going forward, the expansion of telehealth may serve as a catalyst in improving resource utilization, improving quality of care, and advancing pediatric cardiology practices to improve patient care outcomes. For telehealth to be sustainable, care maps and strategies for optimal utilization of this tool in the care of pediatric patients with heart disease must be developed (Chowdhury et al., 2020). Pediatric cardiologists will need to work with advocacy groups and legislators to ensure that the technology is widely adopted and its benefits become known.
Canadian Congenital Heart Alliance. (2021, February 6). Canadian Congenital Heart Alliance. https://www.cchaforlife.org/news
Chowdhury, D., Hope, K. D., Arthur, L. C., Weinberger, S. M., Ronai, C., Johnson, J. N., & Snyder, C. S. (2020). Telehealth for Pediatric Cardiology Practitioners in the Time of COVID-19. Pediatric Cardiology, 41(6), 1081–1091. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00246-020-02411-1
Gensini, G. F., Alderighi, C., Rasoini, R., Mazzanti, M., & Casolo, G. (2017). Value of Telemonitoring and Telemedicine in Heart Failure Management. Cardiac Failure Review, 3(2), 1. https://doi.org/10.15420/cfr.2017:6:2
Public Health Agency of Canada. (2017, February 10). Heart Disease in Canada – Canada.ca. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/heart-disease-canada.html